Fairgrounds Staff

Public Has a Right to Know About What is Going On - Even at the OC Fairgrounds


Current OC Fairgrounds Directors and Executive Management pay lip service to claims of openness, transparency, and supporting the rights of the public, who own the OC Fairgrounds, to ask questions about what is going on. Obstructions to obtaining information including selective disclosure of information  have been used along with bullying and intimidation tactics by the Directors on members of the public. At times, members of the public who have connections to Directors have been asked to join in the bullying and intimidation tactics.

Directors claim that the public should "informally" ask CEO Kathy Kramer for information before submitting a public records request.  There is no requirement under the law that an "informal" request be made for information before a request is made under the California Public Records Act. Informal requests for information with CEO Kathy Kramer have not produced information and are met with stonewalling. Directors and Executive Management of the OC Fairgrounds act as if they are above the law.

A letter was sent to the Directors regarding the rights of the public to ask for and receive information about how business is conducted by the state employees and state officers managing the publicly owned OC Fairgrounds.  This is the letter: 

I am following up on the conversation which started during the February 22, 2018, 32nd District Agricultural Association (32nd DAA) Board meeting during which a discussion of the rights of the public to ask for and to receive information regarding the conduct of the people’s business at the 32nd DAA was conducted. The California Constitution (Cal. Cons. Art. I, § 2-3) clearly grants the people rights to freely address a government body, petition the government for redress of grievances and to have access to information concerning how the government conducts the business of the people including access to the writings of public agencies and officials.

During the meeting, you publicly chastised me for exercising my Constitutional rights through public records requests and then suggested that I ask CEO Kathy Kramer informally for the documents. I followed up on your suggestion and CEO Kramer, who works for a state agency for which you have been appointed a Director by the Governor, ignored your suggestion and, of her own accord, converted my informal request into formal public records requests. CEO Kramer then chose to delay fulfillment of those requests by several months. 

I have spoken with CEO Kramer on many circumstances, and although I’m sure that, as a Director of the agency for which she is employed, she often appears receptive and interested in your point of view, she has often not been receptive or interested in my point of view or in assisting me in the past. And, if you would like the testimony of the degree to which she is receptive or interested in the viewpoints of others who do not already share her view point or are not Directors of the agency for which she is employed, I can arrange for them to contact you. I would also point out that, in this case, she was neither receptive nor apparently interested in your point of view that these requests be handled informally and promptly. I am not certain, what benefit, if any, can come from continuing a dialogue with you on this subject, given that CEO Kramer is not going to follow your suggestions and you are apparently unwilling to exercise authority over the multi-million dollar state agency which you were appointed to oversee by the Governor.

You have stated repeatedly that you believe that the public has a right to know what is going on at the 32nd DAA, but you have been among the most vocal critics of those who have chosen to exercise this Constitutional right. It is difficult to reconcile your statements with your actions. If the basis of your concern is cost, then that can be readily addressed, while furthering public access.

As was suggested at a 32nd DAA Board Meeting some months ago, a simple change in policy and a Dropbox account costing $150 per year would eliminate most need for public records request. A simple directive to employees that whenever a document or email is created by a 32nd DAA employee, a determination is made whether it fits into one of the very few, very limited exceptions to the California Public Records Act (Cal. Gov. Code § 6250, et seq.), and if it does not fit into one of those few narrow exception, it is automatically made available to the public via the Dropbox account. Adoption of this approach would make the 32nd DAA and the Board leaders and heroes in the cause of public oversight, openness, and transparent government.


Contact CEO Kathy Kramer at kkramer@ocfair.com

Contact VP of Business Development Michele Richards who oversees public records requests mrichards@ocfair.com

Contact Fair Board Directors Ashleigh Aitken, Barbara Bagneris, Nick Berardino, Sandra Cervantes, Doug La Belle, Gerardo Mouet, Newton Pham, Robert Ruiz, Stan Tkaczyk by emailing Summer Angus sangus@ocfair.com

Public Records Requests cpra@ocfair.com 

Gun Show at OC Fairgrounds Shows Room for Improvements in Transparency & Accountability

Check It Out (1)

Students are walking out of school on March 14, 2018, to protest the deaths of students and others from gun violence. While Los Angeles County bans gun shows, Orange County allows gun shows. The Crossroads of the West gun show takes place at the Orange County Fair and Event Center (OCFEC), also known as the OC Fairgrounds, several times a year and is a steady source of over $300,000 in annual facility use revenue in addition to parking and concessions revenues.  About a year ago, OCFEC closed for the weekend because the Make America Great Again rally announced that they would hold their unpermitted rally near Fair Drive and Fairview Road on the same weekend as the Crossroads of the West gun show, which caused the cancellation of the gun show for that weekend. The irony is the gun show caused their own cancellation because they agreed to host the Make America Great Again rally without permission to do so.  The gun show was allowed to reschedule the date of the show which was cancelled due to their own actions. 

A recent trip to the gun show raises questions about the conduct of the show including:

  • Photography and video recording are prohibited.
  • A list of of sellers is not available.
  • A "pentagon AR-15 coupler" which attaches five ten-round magazines to an AR-15 was for sale. This apparently legal workaround allows up to fifty rounds to be fired in quick succession. The video linked to is for illustrative purposes only.
  • Several gun show sellers specialize in AR-15 weaponry and accessories.
  • It is not clear if a person is able to obtain the parts needed to assembly an AR-15 from the sellers at the gun show. 
  • Booths do not have signs with the name of the business at each and every booth and not all booths had marketing materials or business cards with the business name and contact information.
  • A number of sellers do not match to a list of Costa Mesa business licenses although a Costa Mesa business license is required to conduct business at OCFEC.  See Costa Mesa Municipal Code Title 9, Chapter I to learn more about business license requirements. A Costa Mesa business license allows sales tax generated at OCFEC to be paid to the City of Costa Mesa, Orange County, and Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), among other agencies. OCTA uses the M1 and M2 OC Go sales tax increments to fund transportation improvements.  
  • Pawn shops which are called "second hand dealers" in statute are among the sellers.  Pawn shops/ second hand dealers need permission from the Costa Mesa Police Department to operate in Costa Mesa. See Costa Mesa Municipal Code Title 9, Chapter II, Article 12 to learn more about business license requirements for pawn shops/ second hand dealers. 
  • A man was observed pushing a hand truck with a box of ammunition for sale throughout the show for several hours. He was holding a handwritten cardboard sign asking people to purchase items from his box. There was less product in the box later in the day than at the beginning of the day.


Reform of gun laws is outside the jurisdiction of the OCFEC Board but the Board can require changes to be made in the way all public events are conducted on the property. Shows open to the public, with free or paid admission, should publish a list of all sellers and exhibitors at the event. The list should state the business name, mailing address, phone number, and email to allow sellers and exhibitors to be contacted outside of the show. Show promoters should be required to have the list available at the show and the information should be kept on file by the OCFEC staff to be provided to the public. One simple change to enhance transparency and accountability which is within the grasp of the OC Fair Board is a step in the right direction. 

Contact CEO Kathy Kramer kkramer@ocfair.com

Contact VP of Operations Ken Karns kkarns@ocfair.com

Contact VP of Business Development Michele Richards mrichards@ocfair.com

Contact the OCFEC Board (Ashleigh Aitken, Barbara Bagneris, Nick Berardino, Sandra Cervantes, Doug La Belle, Gerardo Mouet, Newton Pham, Robert Ruiz, Stan Tkaczyk) through Summer Angus sangus@ocfair.com because Board members choose to not have emails to allow the public to contact them. 

Public Records Requests cpra@ocfair.com




Master Site Plan: Is a $58,239 Contract Amendment Funding Studies of Cannibalization of Existing Facilities?

When Everything is for Sale (1) 

In October 2017, the contract with C. H. Johnson Consulting, Inc.  was amended by $58,239.00 which raised the contract total to $252,369.00. CEO Kathy Kramer, VP Ken Karns,  and the Directors (Ashleigh Aitken, Barbara Bagneris, Nick Berardino, Sandra Cervantes, Doug La Belle, Gerardo Mouet, Newton Pham, Robert Ruiz, Stan Tkaczyk) were asked what the additional money would be used for and refused to answer the questions.    This post discusses a section of the C. H. Johnson Consulting, Inc. RFP which is listed as an optional task and could be the work being performed but CEO Kathy Kramer, VP Ken Karns and the Directors refuse to let the public know what they are doing with public money.  Directors and Executive Management of the OC Fairgrounds choose to act as if they are above the law and do not have to answer for their expenditures of public money or use of public property. 

The Master Site Plan process is a revenue centered process, not a community, education, agriculture, or recreation centered process.  This is the section from the winning proposal for the Master Site Plan process which discusses financial plans and projections. It should be noted that multiple requests have been made for documents regarding this work and no documents have been produced. [A] This section is from pgs. 25-26 of the C. H. Johnson Consulting, Inc. proposal:

This Task commenced in Task 5 and will be finalized in this Task (Task 9). It will consider the initial work done by all parties and will result in finalized economic and fiscal impact analyses considering the developed business and masterplan. Our Impact approach is described below .

To the extent that state and local governments will be participating in the project, part of the return is measured in economic benefits of the project. For this project, it may be important to determine where impacts would occur, as this data can be used to advance the project through the public review and approvals process. It may also be helpful in obtaining final funding grants and ongoing operating support by communicating how the project can help drive demand to the area, how much employment will occur and how much tax revenue will be generated. As such, for this analysis, we will:

  • Use the most recent ExPact survey, an excellent survey prepared by Destination Management Association International (DMAI, formerly known as the International Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus), to estimate direct spending by attendees, associations, exhibitors, and the facility itself, adjusted for local market price indices.

  • Identify from where attendance will likely originate.

  •  Indicate the volume of hotel room nights generated by the project.

  • Identify where spending will most likely be captured.

  • Use the IMPLAN model (an input-output model of the local economy) to estimate indirect and induced spending and employment impacts of the proposed facility for both the projected events and attendees in a stabilized year of operations, based upon the demand projections and the construction of the facility. 

  • Summarize local and state tax structures, including all relevant City, State, County, and other municipal taxes that may be appropriate.

  • Project the facility’s impact on City revenue collections, which include retail sales, lodging, restaurants, and any other areas impacted by the project, and determine whether there will be any cannibalization of existing facilities. 

  • Analyze the impact of the one-time construction activity.

[A] The documents regarding the work performed may have been disposed of or in the custody or control of another unnamed state or local agency or may not be able to be located according to CEO Kathy Kramer. 

Contact CEO Kathy Kramer at kkramer@ocfair.com

Contact VP of Operations Ken Karns who is in charge of the Master Site Plan at kkarns@ocfair.com

Contact Fair Board Directors Ashleigh Aitken, Barbara Bagneris, Nick Berardino, Sandra Cervantes, Doug La Belle, Gerardo Mouet, Newton Pham, Robert Ruiz, Stan Tkaczyk by emailing Summer Angus sangus@ocfair.com

C. H. Johnson Consulting, Inc. from Chicago, IL  is the contractor for the Master Site Plan process. A copy of the entire proposal is available on the "OC Fairgrounds Documents" page listed on the right side of this page. We have no idea why the OC Fairgrounds hired a company from Chicago and could not find a planning firm in the Los Angeles-Orange County area or even in California.   

This is one in a series of posts looking at individual Master Site Plan tasks to gain a greater understanding of how the OC Fair Board Directors (Ashleigh Aitken, Barbara Bagneris, Nick Berardino, Sandra Cervantes, Doug La Belle, Gerardo Mouet, Newton Pham, Robert Ruiz, Stan Tkaczyk) and Executive Management want to push the OC Fairgrounds away from being the fairground we currently enjoy. 

March 22, 2018 Fair Board Meeting Agenda (Thursday at 9 AM by Choice)

Fair Board Meeting (2)

The complete agenda is available here 


More information including copies of contracts listed in the agenda will be available on the  Monday before the Thursday 9 AM Board of Directors meeting.  There is no significant update on the Master Site Plan process even though work is continuing in the back rooms without the public being asked to participate. 

Issues to watch are:

Contract amendment for Spectra, the onsite caterer which holds the alcohol license and operates the Orange County Market Place.  Update on the struggling Orange County Market Place. (Agenda Item 9B) A copy of the current contract with Spectra and for the OC Market Place are available on the Fairgrounds Documents Page. 

Centennial Farm Foundation Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Issues: Centennial Farm Foundation is legally separate from Centennial Farm and does not own, operate, or provide a significant source of funding for Centennial Farm. Centennial Farm Foundation has been asked to sign an MOU formalizing the relationship with the OC Fairgrounds (Orange County Fair and Event Center) and has not signed the MOU after a long wait. The Board may take action regarding the MOU at this meeting which is not expected to make a significant change in operation of Centennial Farm. 

California Assembly Bill 2396 Discussion: This is a bad bill which allows conflicts of interest and removes competitive bidding rules, among other changes. Kill the bill!

Committee/Task Force/ Liaison Reports will be given on these areas (Agenda Item 9A):

Pacific Amphitheatre Operation Evaluation & Review Task Force (Director Berardino, Director Tkaczyk): This task force hired the former manager of the Pacific Amphitheatre under Nederlander when the noise problems occurred to assist the task force in reviewing Pacific Amphitheatre operations and making recommendations for changes. A no-bid contract was used for the hiring.

Centennial Farm Foundation Board (Director Cervantes)

Heroes Hall Veterans Foundation Board (Director Berardino, Director LaBelle): Note that Heroes Hall Veterans Foundation does not own, operate or provide a significant source of funding for the Heroes Hall Museum. 

 Financial Monitoring Committee (Director Pham, Director Mouet)

 Legislative Monitoring Task Force (Director Berardino, Director Aitken)

 Master Site Plan Task Force (Director La Belle, Vice Chair Ruiz)

 Tenant Liaison Committee (Director Tkaczyk, Director Berardino)

 Equestrian Center Task Force (Director Aitken, Director Tkaczyk)


Questions or Comments can directed to:

CEO Kathy Kramer kkramer@ocfair.com

Board of Directors Members (Ashleigh Aitken, Barbara Bagneris, Nick Berardino, Sandra Cervantes, Doug La Belle, Newton Pham, Robert Ruiz, Stan Tkaczyk) choose to not have email addresses to allow the public to contact them. Contact the Board by emailing Summer Angus sangus@ocfair.com and asking that your email be forwarded to the Board members. 

Public records requests can be submitted to cpra@ocfair.com


OC Fairgrounds Schedules Meeting to Roll Out Master Site Plan While Denying the Public Their Rights Under CEQA

What They Arent Telling You (1)

On April 23, 2018, at a meeting starting at 9 AM on a Thursday morning, the OC Fair Board will present their concepts to change the OC Fairgrounds into a convention center. The effort is led by CEO Kathy Kramer who worked on the $600 million remodel of the Phoenix Convention Center which placed the property in the top 25 convention centers in North America and caused dramatic changes in the neighborhood with the addition of hotels and restaurants. CEO Kathy Kramer is assisted by VP of Operations Ken Karns who worked to transform Western Fair in London, Ontario, Canada, into the 364 days a year, 24 hour a day Western Fair District. Neither CEO Kramer or VP Karns worked in the public sector in California prior to being hired by the current OC Fair Board Directors (Ashleigh Aitken, Barbara Bagneris, Nick Berardino, Sandra Cervantes, Doug La Belle, Gerardo Mouet, Robert Ruiz, Stan Tkaczyk)

State law known as the California Environmental Quality Act or CEQA requires processes and procedures to be followed when development projects are proposed to mitigate potential environmental impacts and to protect the rights of the public.  Agencies such as the OC Fairgrounds (known to the State as the 32nd District Agricultural Association or 32nd DAA) are required to have procedures in place for making decisions under CEQA (see Section 15022. Public Agency Implementing Procedures in Title 14 Natural Resources): 

(a) Each public agency shall adopt objectives, criteria, and specific procedures consistent with CEQA and these Guidelines for administering its responsibilities under CEQA, including the orderly evaluation of projects and preparation of environmental documents. The implementing procedures should contain at least provisions for:
(1) Identifying the activities that are exempt from CEQA. These procedures should contain:
(A) Provisions for evaluating a proposed activity to determine if there is no possibility that the activity may have a significant effect on the environment.
(B) A list of projects or permits over which the public agency has only ministerial authority.
(C) A list of specific activities which the public agency has found to be within the categorical exemptions established by these guidelines.
(2) Conducting initial studies.
(3) Preparing negative declarations.
(4) Preparing draft and final EIRs.
(5) Consulting with and obtaining comments from other public agencies and members of the public with regard to the environmental effects of projects.
(6) Assuring adequate opportunity and time for public review and comment on the Draft EIR or Negative Declaration.
(7) Evaluating and responding to comments received on environmental documents.
(8) Assigning responsibility for determining the adequacy of an EIR or negative declaration.
(9) Reviewing and considering environmental documents by the person or decision making body who will approve or disapprove a project.
(10) Filing documents required or authorized by CEQA and these Guidelines.
(11) Providing adequate comments on environmental documents which are submitted to the public agency for review.
(12) Assigning responsibility for specific functions to particular units of the public agency.
(13) Providing time periods for performing functions under CEQA.
In August 2017 (over 180 days ago), a request was made to the OC Fairgrounds for copies of these procedures and no procedures were produced.  Several more attempts to receive copies of the procedures have been made and have been ignored by the OC Fairgrounds. CEO Kathy Kramer and VP Ken Karns, with the apparent support of the OC Fair Board Directors (Ashleigh Aitken, Barbara Bagneris, Nick Berardino, Sandra Cervantes, Doug La Belle, Gerardo Mouet, Newton Pham, Robert Ruiz, Stan Tkaczyk) have refused to produce copies of these procedures which are required under California law.  The OC Fair Board Directors and Executive Management act as if they are above the law. The public has rights which the OC Fair Board and Executive Management are trampling on those rights.
Ask the OC Fairgrounds for Copies of CEQA Procedures Required Under Statute
  1. Contact CEO Kathy Kramer at kkramer@ocfair.com 
  2. Contact VP of Operations Ken Karns who is in charge of the Master Site Plan.  kkarns@ocfair.com
  3. Fair Board Directors choose to not have email addresses to be used by the public to contact them and have Summer Angus sangus@ocfair.com forward messages from the public to them. 
  4. You can follow up on your messages by doing a public records request at cpra@ocfair.com


Look Up the CEQA Statutes

CEQA is a statute (Public Resources Code Section 21000 et seq.) enacted by the California Code of Regulation (Title 14 Natural Resources, Chapter 6 Resources Agency, Chapter 3 Guidelines for Implementation of the California Environmental Quality Act).


Is the Proposed Educational Meeting Center a School Building?

Cow Sign Question (2)

No. A proposed “Educational Meeting Center” will take up the open space between Centennial Farm, the Workers Memorial, and the existing buildings while aligning with the Main Mall. The proposed 40,000 sq ft building will have a 20,000 sq ft ballroom. Ballrooms are rentable space and can be used just like the ballrooms in the Anaheim Convention Center. Expect the meeting space to be configured for rental use, not for school age children. Fairgrounds staff and Board are trying to hide that a large convention center building is proposed by calling it an education center. The Fair Board and staff want to move into the convention center business and the “Educational Meeting Center” is key to that.

Is the OC Fairgrounds Owned by the State of California? Are They Part of State Government?

Cow Question (2)

Yes and yes. The OC Fairgrounds is owned by the State of California and is formally known as the 32nd District Agricultural Association or 32nd DAA.  

District Agricultural Associations were established to assist in marketing California agricultural products by showcasing livestock, fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries, seeds, hay, straw, other agricultural commodities, and products made from agricultural commodities.  The reason the OC Fair actually exists is to show off local livestock and agricultural products. The Junior Livestock Auction is part of that core reason for being of the OC Fair as are the wine, food, flower, and produce competitions

District Agricultural Associations are part of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) in the Executive Branch of government and report to the Governor. Fairs fall under the Marketing Services branch which also manages dairy product production, marketing and pricing; assists in marketing agricultural commodities; and collects agricultural market information and statistics to assist California farmers in growing and selling their commodities. Fairs and Expositions is under Marketing Services and assists State owned and operated fairgrounds in management.

CEO Kathy Kramer to Make Appearance at March 6, 2018 Costa Mesa City Council Meeting

Check It Out (1)


CEO Kathy Kramer will make an appearance at the March 6, 2018, Costa Mesa City Council meeting which starts at 6 PM at 77 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa to make a presentation at the beginning of the meeting agendized as "2. Upcoming OC Fair Events & Information – Ms. Kathy Kramer, CEO, OC Fair".  As this is an information item and does not have a staff report detailing what is being presented, CEO Kathy Kramer should stick to providing information about upcoming concerts, events, classes, and similar items and refrain from discussion of any and all issues regarding the Master Site Plan, Board of Directors decisions, upcoming items on the Board of Directors agenda, or any matter which is not strictly informational. Council Members should also refrain from discussing issues which do not appear on the agenda with CEO Kramer at this time. 

If CEO Kathy Kramer wants to discuss those items with the Costa Mesa City Council, she needs to come back and ask for the item(s) to be placed on the agenda with a staff report prepared and with both the Council and public allowed to ask questions and make comments regarding the agenda item.  Similarly, if the Council wants a discussion of issues involving the OC Fairgrounds,  Council should place the item on the agenda with a staff report prepared and with both the Council and public allowed to ask questions and make comments regarding the agenda item.


Background on CEO Kathy Kramer

Kathy Kramer has worked as:

Director of Sales and Marketing for Harrah's Casino and Hotel in Council Bluffs, Iowa

Midwest Regional Director of Sales and Marketing for Six Continents Hotels and Resorts in Omaha, Nebraska

Vice President of Convention Sales and Marketing for Century Link Center in Omaha, Nebraska

Deputy Director of Phoenix Convention Center and Venues: Ms. Kramer was part of the executive team that oversaw a $600M expansion project tripling the rentable space to nearly one million sq. ft and placing the convention center in the top 25 convention centers in North America. The expansion of the Phoenix Convention Center permanently changed the area around the property and led to the development of hotels and restaurants near the property. 

Vice President of Business Operations at Northlands in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada










Take a Day Off Work to Attend Master Site Plan Reveal on April 26, 2018


Bullhorn Meeting (1)

The Master Site Plan selection will be revealed on Thursday, April 26, 2018, Download Master Site Plan Notice _February_Board_Packet during a meeting which starts at 9 AM when most people have work, school, or other commitments. Despite repeated asks for evening meetings, the Fair Board chooses to meet at a time when it is hard for people to attend their meetings. The meeting time is by the choice of the Fair Board and nothing in statute says the Fair Board must meet during the day. Oversight of the planning was done by a member of the building trades whose employer can benefit from the project. 

The proposed schedule is:

9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Agenda items 1-9 (including Call to Order through Governance Process, workshop/training to be last governance item)

10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Short recess for room re-set (if necessary)

10:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.  Workshop/Training to commence

12:30 p.m. – 12:40 p.m. Short recess as boxed lunches are delivered for Board of Directors and members of the public

12:40 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Workshop/Training to continue through working lunch

2:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Wrap up of final Agenda items (Board of Directors Matters of Information and Adjournment)

The Fair Board does not stream or make video recordings of their meetings. This is another choice made by the Fair Board.  With over $40 million in cash and cash equivalent reserves Download Financials_February_Board_Packet, there is no shortage of resources.

The Fair Board is expected to present plans to begin the process of creating a convention and expo center with year round, daily, heavy use. As the process is being led by CEO Kathy Kramer who worked on the $600 million remodel of the Phoenix Convention Center  with the assistance of VP of Operations Ken Karns who helped to convert Western Fair in London, Ontario, Canada to a year round entertainment and expo center and CEO Kramer celebrated a $1 million sales month in December 2017 Download Million Dollar December_January_Board_Transcript, the project will have major impacts on Costa Mesa. The remodel of the Phoenix Convention Center triggered development of hotels and an entertainment district


Contact Fair Board Directors

The Fair Board Directors are: Ashleigh Aitken, Barbara Bagneris, Douglas La Belle, Gerardo Mouet, Newton Pham, Nick Berardino, Robert Ruiz , Sandra Cervantes, Stan Tkaczyk

Fair Board Directors do not have official email accounts for their jobs, again by their choice. Email Summer Angus, Board secretary, and ask her to forward your message to the Fair Board Directors.  Summer Angus sangus@ocfair.com

Contact CEO Kathy Kramer  



Contact VP of Operations Ken Karns











OC Fairgrounds Celebrates $1 Million in Monthly Revenue in Move Towards Becoming Convention & Expo Center

When Everything is for Sale (1)

OC Fairgrounds CEO Kathy Kramer, formerly of the Phoenix Convention Center,  announced that the all-time monthly revenue record for year round events (events held outside of the OC Fair) was broken in December 2017 with over $1 million in monthly revenue.  Ms. Kramer called the $1 million a month sales as a “benchmark for next year” which is being celebrated on February 23, 2018, with a lunch for Fairgrounds staff. 
Hit the goal, get a reward. The OC Fairgrounds is a sales focussed organization with the Fair Board directing Executive Management to those actions. If the focus was education and agriculture, there would be celebration of increasing the number of Centennial Farm visitors and increases in the amount of space devoted to agricultural and educational use.  
Increases in revenue and rewarding staff for the increase gives rise to a number of issue to be examined:
  • While the Fairgrounds Board and Executive Management claim the property is about agriculture and community service, their actions show the goals of the Board and Executive Management are about increasing revenues.  It is not clear why all of this money is needed or how the money is used to benefit the community with increased agricultural and educational programming and community use of the facility. Exactly what does the Public who own the OC Fairgrounds get from this $1 million benchmark month?
  • Who asked the OC Fairgrounds to do this?  Who benefits? We need names.
  • Does the increase in year round sales mean that there will not be increases in admission prices for the 2019 OC Fair and no increases in parking charges? We need a commitment to no price increases for the 2019 OC Fair. 

The Fair Board and Executive Management  continue to deny that their goal is to become a year round convention and event center with daily, heavy use. Executive Management hired by the Fair Board are from the convention and expo business and converted a fairground into a 364 day a year, 24 hour a day entertainment and expo center.  Executive Management were hired to change the OC Fairgrounds from a fairground to a convention and expo center. 

The Fairgrounds is a 150 acre island surrounded by Costa Mesa and nothing gets on or off the island without going through Costa Mesa.  Costa Mesa neighbors should not be asked to bend their needs to fit what the Fairgrounds wants but the Fairgrounds must fit into the existing Costa Mesa neighborhoods.
Fairgrounds Executive Management Contact Information to Address Your Questions and Concerns
CEO Kathy Kramer
Ms. Kramer was the Deputy Director of the Phoenix Convention Center and was part of the team that oversaw a $600 million expansion project tripling the rentable space to nearly one million sq ft and placing the Phoenix Convention Center in the top twenty-five convention centers in North America.  The expansion of the Phoenix Convention Center changed the character of the area

VP of Operations Ken Karns 
Oversees safety, security, facilities, equestrian center, entertainment booking and ticketing, parking, and the Master Site Plan process, among other duties. Mr. Karns worked to convert Western Fair in London, Ontario, Canada to the Western Fair District which has year round 24 hour a day use. 

VP of Business Development Michele Richards 
Oversees event bookings and scheduling, sponsorships, community programs, and community exhibits during the OC Fair, among other duties. Year round events are not booked by state employees but by Tandem, a company from San Francisco which is paid on commission.