The Mason County Rodeo and Mason Area Fair will be allowed to rent the Fairgrounds this year. Leases for both entities to hold their events in July were approved by the Port of Shelton Commission Tuesday during a meeting where the Port Commissioners, the Mason County Commissioners and the Shelton Skookum Rotary Foundation’s Event Center Committee discussed the latest developments in the effort to create a plan to relocate the Fairgrounds. A significant clause in the lease with the Rodeo Association says they will remove their equipment from the Fairgrounds property within 60 days after their event.
A similar lease was then drafted for the Mason Area Fair Association. By signing their respective leases, both entities acknowledge that the approval is for 2014 only and the Fairgrounds property “will be permanently closed in the fall of 2014.” Both leases were unanimously approved by the Port Commissioners.
Prior to this action was the work session discussion about relocating the fairgrounds and building an events center. The Skookum Rotary Foundation Event Center Committee has been exploring potential new locations for the Fairgrounds/Event Center, who would run the new facility, how it would be funded and what facilities are needed. Last month, the Committee made a presentation to the Port Commission that identified 40 acres of County owned property at the intersection of U.S. Highway 101 and Highway 102 (Dayton Airport Road) as a potential new location. Tuesday, another parcel, an 80-acre parcel owned by Curt Hunter, was also identified as available for a potential location.
During this 45-minute discussion, members of the Event Center Committee presented the Port with letters of support but did voice concerns about signing a lease saying they would not use the Fairgrounds after 2014 as it will take a few years to build a new facility. The County Commissioners said they lean toward the new facility being operated by the private sector and were more interested in selling their property rather than leasing but will look at all options once they are identified. For the Port Commission, the challenge has always been the FAA and at least one Commissioner, Dick Taylor, would like to see this issue out of government control.
All do believe that progress is being made and a solution will come but not right away. In the meantime, the Port and Skookum Rotary Foundation will continue their negotiations – separate from the Event Center Committee’s efforts – for OysterFest this year and the years leading up to moving to a new facility.
Here is the full Event Center discussion: