The Washington County Fairgrounds are now known by a new name.
At today’s (Tuesday) Washington County Commissioners meeting, the court approved changing the name of the facility to the Washington County Expo. Commissioners also approved a new logo for the facility, along with updates to its rental policy and price guide.
Expo Director Harrison Williams said the name change comes as a result of wanting to break away from an industry-wide mindset that there cannot be more to a fairgrounds than just livestock.
Williams said the new name and logo should help to alleviate confusion between the Washington County Fairgrounds and the Washington County Fair Association, as the facility and county fair are run by separate organizations. He stressed that the rebranding did not cost the county anything.
Fair Association Board Chair David Wellmann said the fair association does not necessarily have a concern with the facility name change, but it is worried about the lack of progress with discussions on a long-term lease with the facility. He said talks have not gone any further than they were a year and a half ago, adding that the fair association was “forced” to exercise a five-year extension option because there was not a long-term lease in place, after being told it would happen in 2020. He said, “You can put a skirt on a pig and you can put lipstick on it, but it is still a pig.”
Wellmann asked what the fair association will be charged to rent the facility after its five-year extension is up, and said it will look elsewhere if forced to. Commissioner Joy Fuchs said she does not ever want to see the partnership between the county and the fair association fail, and Commissioner Kirk Hanath said the two are much better together than they are separate. Fuchs said the county will bring talks on a long-term lease before the fair board at its next meeting.
Williams also showcased the facility’s new website, www.washingtoncountyexpo.com. He said the new website, which was purchased through Saffire in August, leverages both the Fairgrounds and the Fair Association to further drive traffic towards both entities. He added that the county used the new website opportunity to develop the new logo for the facility.
Commissioner-approved changes to the rental policy for events at the facility will, according to Williams, streamline the rental process and avoid miscommunication between staff and individual renters. He said the changes should provide “a consistent structure to operate off of,” while also saving money through “better utilization of staff time.” Williams said the changes for the price guide do not result in any particularly higher or lower prices, mainly serving as a means to condense and simplify the pricing structure.
Also at today’s meeting, commissioners approved:
- An order establishing a public hearing on a petition calling a bond election for the Pecan Glen Road District. The hearing will be held Tuesday, February 9th at 9 a.m. during commissioners court.
- A 60 day extension of 29 excess vacation hours for Steven Smith with the Washington County Expo Department.
- The county’s investment policy for 2021 without any changes made. County Treasurer Peggy Kramer said no changes to the policy have been made since 2017.
- Bond renewal for Reserve Deputy Sheriff Steve Westbrook.