Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fairgrounds 2011: who is in charge here?

The entertainment industry's trade magazine has an interview with Rockhouse's Director of Sponsorships this week about her views on management of the Fairgrounds, and it makes me wonder how she knows so much, given that the State Fair Board has made no decisions this year. Or maybe they have made decisions without divulging them publicly:

"This year we're trying to do a joint venture with the Tennessee State Fair Association, the city government and North American Midway Entertainment carnival company," said Chrysty Fortner, a Board member for the state fair association. Organizers are renting the former fairgrounds for the event this year as they did in 2010.

"Although the budget at this point is $1.2 million, we're trying to build it up closer to $2 million so we can incorporate a flea market and expo" ....

"Last year, we put an 18-member fair board together with a new plan and ran the fair at the old grounds as a private group," Fortner said. "It was very difficult and exhausting, but we knew we had to keep it going. Unfortunately, this year we're in the same boat."

The group is in the early stages of funding and has yet to determine whether the fair will be a public, private, state or joint venture.

There are no plans in place yet for rebuilding or relocating," Fortner said. "The state fair can't be dependent on a piece of real estate that may or may not be ours next year. We need to move forward."

Before taking her position at Rockhouse Chrysty Fortner worked previously under Buck Dozier as the State Fair's Director of Marketing. The position she won was reportedly unadvertised in its search, and it paid her an annual salary of $72,000. I'm not sure how she got the job, but it probably did not hurt her chances that in 2007 she worked as a Dozier "Political Grassroots Campaign Manager" with a recommendation from MMA Creative principal Mike Kopp.

Enclave readers may remember:

  • Ms. Fortner had a good laugh at the previous master plan recommendations for the Fairgrounds drawn up with public input at public expense
  • Rockhouse did not follow through with some expected higher fair prize payouts backed up by money that was supposed to come from Karl Dean's office.

Last week the Mayor's Office had a hiccup with revelations that a major power broker in Karl Dean's administration failed to disclose personal dealings with a lawyer who ended up with a plum job as chief legal council of the convention center project as well as his board membership with a company that received a sweet subcontract (likely because disclosure before the council vote might have caused unnecessary embarrassment). Therefore, it is reasonable to ask: who in the Mayor's Office might have undisclosed ties at Rockhouse and who in Metro government might be trying to influence industry perceptions through this public-private partnership? Finally, if these 2011 decisions are being made by the Fair Board itself, why are they not being publicized to Davidson County voters?


  1. I voted for Dean. I even did volunteer work one afternoon in his campaign office on West End Ave. I have no faith nor trust in this man. He and his administration will do anything to get their way. We must watch him like a hawk until he is gone.

  2. Fortner and her group have locked up the state-owner property on County Hospital Road. You heard it here first. The State Fair goes. Then the Flee Market goes to Whocarewhere-ville, USA. Then the racetrack is finally demolished. Problem solved.

  3. Though many would like to see the state fair stay, I don't think it is instrumental to the future of the fairgrounds. That said, a successful fair really comes down to promotion and execution. Can it be done at the fairgrounds? Yes. Other sites may make sense as well. I fully support keeping the fairgrounds and raceway. A reinvigorated raceway and fairgrounds can be an economical and cultural positive to all citizens and visitors. I find anonymous's comment both ludicrous and negative. You should move to another city. But you are likely employed by Dean in some form or fashion.

  4. Boyer, you hit the nail on the head with your response to Anonymous. Isn't it ironic Anonymous seems to know what may be lerking in the mind of KD and his unethical "Lil Brown Nosed" puppets that think they are going to gain from KD's promise to them if they help him in quest to demolish the Fairgrounds. They just can't see the true side of KD. He made a promise to us too, then he stabbed us in the back. That's what he does best, leader of the city...NOT SO WELL. Can't wait to say goodbye to KD and his bunch of brown noising cowards.

  5. Someome should look into Ned Horton, appointed by Dean to the fairground committee. Horton lives close to the fairgrounds. Dean advisor Jim Hester recomended Horton to Dean. Horton owns, or did own or flip property within a mile of the fairgrounds in the last three years or so. Hester used to work for Horton when Ned ran a music management company about ten years ago. Horton's web and marketing company did Dean's web site when Dean ran for mayor. Horton's company may still have a contract with Dean for web and marketing services. Horton may have or had any property transactions in his wife's name. Hester asked put Horton on the" committee" because he was against the raceway and fairgrounds to begin with. Thats fine. But the fact Horton renovated property between the chili plant and fairgrounds is suspect.