The Curry County Fair Board approved a contract agreement to host the Coastal Legends event during a grueling five-and-a-half-hour fair board meeting on Friday, Jan. 17.
The brainchild of Crissy Cooper of West Coast Adventure, Coastal legends is set to premiere at the Event Center on the Beach in Gold Beach on Feb. 28-29. The event is designed to attract visitors to the region during the “shoulder season,” according to Cooper.
“An event for lovers of art, storytelling, imagination and fun for everyone!” is how the West Coast Adventure website describes the event. The event will include a storytelling event with a competitive twist.
Plans also include an interactive scavenger hunt, with kids 12 and under admitted free on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Giant loggers, Squatch, Yeti, fairies, trolls, mermaids and sailors will perform the myths, folklore, history and legends of Oregon’s “magic,” a theme that’s in alignment with current promotions by Travel Oregon.
Friday evening, Feb. 28, includes the final for the talent competition “Showcase Shakedown,” which has already started with local talent searches held last Thursday in Brookings at Khun Thai, with more competitions to come.
On Saturday, Feb. 29, the evening’s entertainment will include headliners country music legend Benton Blount, who was a finalist in Season 10 of America’s Got Talent, and Medford’s country band Fogline. The show will be opened by the winner of the Showcase Shakedown competition from the previous evening.
The show almost didn’t go on due to a handful of issues during contract negotiations. At an emergency fair board meeting turned workshop on Monday, Jan. 13, board members were concerned about the planned use of the arena for the main stage as part of the event’s plans. The venue, which is a horse arena most of the year, was deemed unsuitable for an event coming so soon on the horizon. The consensus of the board was scheduled repairs and planned upgrades could not be implemented for an event that is just 6 weeks away.
At the subsequent regular board meeting on Jan. 17, Cooper and her mother Lesa Cooper, who handles the bookkeeping, presented a scaled-back plan that moved the music stages into Docia Sweet Hall, with a food court and outdoor tent area outside, and an adults-only wine and beer venue featuring local vendors upstairs.
The event was designed, according to Cooper, to be a partnership with the Event Center on the Beach, rather than a facility rental. West Coast Adventure and the Event Center would split the net profit from the event, with 60% going to the Event Center.
The contract negotiations hit an impasse over the scheduled draws that West Coast Adventure would take to cover out-of-pocket expenses. Fair board members balked at being on the hook for the draws without some assurances they would not be out the money if the event experienced problems.
“We don’t have the money to lose, and we need to answer to people who do give us money,” said newly elected fair board chair Dave Hoenie.
Cooper described how she has previously used ticket event insurance to cover natural disasters and weather events that could hurt attendance, such as U.S. Highway 101 washing out, being blocked by a mudslide or developing a sinkhole; tsunami; flooding and wind events — all in the realm of possibilities in our area, witnessed by events over the past several years.
For Cooper, the upfront costs for airline tickets for the musicians and sound crew and getting started with paid radio and social media promotions were the hurdles for her organization. The budget line for the seed money was set at $7,101.
For Robert Chibante, past president of the fair board, the Event Center on the Beach’s vision is to become a sought after venue in Curry County for weddings, conventions and events.
“We’ve been doing business a certain way all the time,” Chibante said. “Rent the space, get $5 and move on, and it takes $10 to fix that space. There’s always a fear of trying to do something new and different… This would be an investment in a partnership. There is more than one way to do things…. It’s an investment in our future and says, ‘Here’s where we’re going to go.’”
Board member Tim Scullen saw it differently. “We haven’t gotten money from the county for the fairgrounds in the last quarter-century,” he said. “Curry Fair Friends have donated their time as an income source here.”
In fact, the Friends of the Fair have donated $300,000 for capital improvements at the fairgrounds, according to Hoenie.
“It’s an important relationship we have with the Curry Fair Friends,” Scullen continued, “and I’ve heard from quite a few of them since this whole thing has been going on. I’d be willing to donate my time. Fairground money? There’s no way I’m going to authorize or have anything to do with us fronting money to anybody.”
A creative discussion between the parties found a solution to the impasse for a majority of the board members. Lodging through in-kind donations from board members who have connections to vacation rentals in the area, providing in-kind catering of sandwiches and snacks for workers and musicians during the event, and offsetting hall rental fees for a percentage of the profit were some of the terms for the fair board’s sponsorship. Edits to the contract included naming the headline acts and setting a limit for financial requests to the fair board as “not to exceed $7,101.”
A motion to approve the contract as amended passed with a recusal from new board member Erin Johnson, who has worked with Cooper on promotions of her events, and a dissenting vote from Tim Scullen. Jeri Lynn Thompson was absent. Votes in favor came from Robert Chibante, Christina Brose, David Hoenie and Rob Carrillo.
“We were so impressed by the Curry fair board and their willingness to partner with us and work this event with us,” Cooper said. “This experience has been humbling, as well as inspiring!”
Other business by the fair board was the election of new officers, announcement of this year’s fair theme “Surfers, Sand and Everything Land” and selecting candidates to interview for the two open job positions, event center manager and assistant.