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State Fair will pay county taxes, says president

Posted on Friday, May 17, 2013 at 3:58 pm

DOSWELL – The State Fair of Virginia will continue to pay real estate taxes to Caroline County, the nonprofit organization’s president told members of the county’s business community Thursday night.

“We are paying property taxes and will continue to do so,” Jeff Dillon told an annual gathering of business owners at a reception at The Meadow Event Park hosted by county officials.

The previous corporation that owned and operated the State Fair paid real estate taxes even though it was not required because of its nonprofit status.

Dillon’s comment was elicited during a brief question-and-answer session following his remarks to the business leaders.

Dillon, who also is treasurer of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, which recently acquired full ownership of the State Fair and The Meadow Event Park, also said the organization is opposed to an admissions tax.

Last fall, County Administrator Charles Culley proposed an admissions tax on fairs and other ticketed events, a move that would allow the county to collect revenue from thousands of people who attend the State Fair and other events at The Meadow Event Park. However, Mark Lovell, who owned the State Fair and venue at the time and was operating them in a partership with the Farm Bureau, vehemently opposed the idea, and the Board of Supervisors did not act on it. An admissions tax would require approval of the General Assembly.

In an interview after the reception, Dillon softened his opposition to the admissions tax somewhat. Farm Bureau is “very concerned” about an admissions tax, he said. It needs to focus its efforts and resources on stabilizing the State Fair and The Meadow Event Park financially, he explained.

“As success builds, we could share some of that success with the county,” he suggested.

Immediate earnings from operating the State Fair and The Meadow Event Park will be reinvested in the event and the venue, said Dillon.

“We understand that Caroline County has some (financial) struggles,” said Dillon. “We’re aware of it. We want to help in any way we can.”

The State Fair will be seeking county permission to expand its footprint at The Meadow Event Park, Dillon told the gathering. It also plans to add more infrastracture and buildings and develop the site further, he said.

The Farm Bureau will close on the deal to purchase the State Fair and the property from Lovell on July 7, said Dillon.

Farm Bureau has a stewardship approach to the State Fair and the Meadow Event Park, said Dillon. “We are stewards,” he said, of the legacy of Secretariat, the triple crown winner that was born at the original The Meadow farm, and The Meadow Event Park, as well as stewards of the State Fair of Virginia.

Farm Bureau also will work “very agressively” to bring more shows and special events to The Meadow Event Park, said Dillon.