Orange County Fairgrounds Equestrian Center Possible Closure

Since 1984, there have been seventeen stable closures in Orange County (source). Orange County is in danger of losing another equestrian center. The Orange County Fair Board, some of the same board members who gave themselves $376,000 in free concert tickets, has approved an environmental study at the cost of $66,000 to see what the effect would be if they leveled the equestrian center and laid asphalt for what Fair CEO Steve Beazley calls a “flat, flexible space.” (I read that statement to be a parking lot, as they have already moved the fence that gave the equestrian center more parking to give the fairgrounds more parking.)


If it sounds as if I am biased against them doing the study, as well as them removing the equestrian center, I am. My wife works with one of the non-profit organization that stable their horses at the center. I have witnessed first hand the positive impact the center provides to those that use it and the community at large. Stable owners provide free basic horsemanship classes to underprivileged kids in the community. The equestrian center is home to the following stables; Shefmire Sport Horses, Elvenstar,Golden Hill Riding Academy, Equi Sports International,and Sabo Equestrian, all which provide lessons and a horse to take them on for a fee. Being only one of two public equestrian centers in Orange County (Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center is the other), losing the equestrian center would also mean losing one of the few places that anyone can watch horses and riders train any day in a public arena.

Artist and subject

The Equine Coalition of Orange County (ECOC) is looking for support in opposing the Fair Boards decision to use taxpayers money to funds the environmental study and help in finding a way that the Fairground and the Equestrian Center can work together to benefit each other. Check out their site for more information.

Edit: to correct information from ECOC

6 Comments so far

  1. frazgo on February 15th, 2009 @ 12:06 pm

    What a nice trip down memory lane. I do believe this is where my cousin Andrea went for her Equestrian lessons and was actually pretty good at the stuff.

  2. mactonight666 on February 17th, 2009 @ 2:16 pm

    Blah, blah, blah, while my heart weeps for the downtrodden, the facts cannot be ignored even though they work against your argument.

    First, the fairgrounds receives no tax dollars, thus, they are not spending "taxpayers money" on the environmental study. They are completely self-financed and thus it behooves them to continually make the best use of the land they are entrusted with.

    Second, the only reason you really care about the center is that you have a personal interest. If you were one of the thousands of people who drive by the center each day, you wouldn’t care. Or if you were one of the thousands who complain about parking during the fair, you would probably be supportive of extra parking space.

    And, third, the equestrians only generate about an eighth of the revenue each year that could be generated by the increased parking capacity. You are so up-in-arms about the free tickets the board takes, buy by under-utilizing this part of the fairgrounds, you are taking just as much money out of the till.

    Sorry, but it is a fairgrounds, thus they are in the fair business, not the equestrian business.

    And, if Costa Mesa is so hot on the idea of an equestrian center, why don’t they build one, instead of adding a second skateboard park?

    Everyone complains about government catering to special interests until it is their special interest.

  3. Jeff Donaldson (fejsez) on February 17th, 2009 @ 11:02 pm

    I just want to clarify your facts while we are at it.

    First, "Who owns the OC Fair & Event Center?
    -The 32nd District Agricultural Association, doing business as the OC Fair & Event Center, is a state entity within the Division of Fairs and Expositions, California Department of Food and Agriculture." OC Fair FAQ
    Being a "State Entity" it does receive tax dollars. That being said, I did correct my statement above where the ECOC did say they were opposing the use of taxpayer funds, but not directly to fund the enviromental study.

    Second, You are right. And that is why i wrote about it.

    Third, while the fair is talking about the dire economic outlook of the future of the fairground, and after being warned that they would have their budget withheld by the state (the one from which you said they didn’t receive any tax dollars from) for accepting "gifts", (which the free tickets are considered) those tickets could have been sold as revenue. While it might not put as much in, under-utilization is not taking money from the till. Taking revenue generating tickets as "gifts" is.

    And to your fourth point, about the fairgrounds being in the "fair business," the first fair " included a horse race and a few exhibits" and then "were primarily livestock exhibitions and horse races." OC Fair History. Equestrian events have been a part of the "fair business" since it’s inception.

  4. mactonight666 on February 18th, 2009 @ 2:32 pm

    You are wrong. While it is a state agency, it receives no money from the state. All operating funds are generated through events at the fairgrounds.

    Second, the state cannot withhold the budget, they can simply fail to approve the budget. They still do not provide any of the money used to operate the property. And the Board of Directors changed their ticketing policy in August, according the OC Register.

    Third, you are correct, equestrian events have been part of the fair business since the beginning. That is not the same as saying the property is obligated to have an equestrian center. In fact, the equestrian center has refused to be a part of the Fair for years. So, while the center may go, the Fair will continue to have equestrian events at the Fair.

  5. Jeff Donaldson (fejsez) on February 18th, 2009 @ 3:01 pm

    I stand corrected on the fairgrounds not receiving money from the California General Fund. It was my assumption that, in addition to statement cited above from the press release by the ECOC, being a state entity that it received state funding.
    We all know what assuming gets us. I am now informed more on the subject, thanks.
    That said, believe me, I do see your points and respect your opinion.
    My hope is that the two side can come to some sort of agreement that will be mutually beneficial.

  6. hbrocks on March 6th, 2009 @ 4:55 pm

    hey macaronitonite333…..
    blah blah blah blah blah urself.
    kinda obvious what side you’ve taken on this account.
    Take your snooottie comments back to your fairboard job and get back to work on being a "best and highest use" ogre with king ogre beazley. You sure seem to know an awful lot about the inner workings and the facts about this issue.
    Wouldn’t highest and best use of this land be more inline with a…say…developed real estate? Think at last count the estimated value was around $230 million for that property?

    The fair runs just fine with the equestrian center where it is.

    And why should the city have to build an equestrian center when they already have one established right across the street?

    I don’t care where the Fair gets their revenue….the equestrian center is an irreplaceable community asset and needs to stay.

    If Beazley has his way the whole fairgrounds is going to turn into one big slab of asphalt. oh wait….that’s flat flexible space…the best and highest use. pfffffffffft.

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