Colorado’s New State Fair GM Champions Pueblo, Ready to Dig In to Finances

January 26, 2016
Outside the Colorado State Fairgrounds in PuebloOutside the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo Andrea Chalfin / KRCC
Outside the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo

The Colorado State Fair has a new general manager.  Sarah Cummings recently picked up the reins to drive the annual celebration of state agriculture.  She comes from California, where she worked with and ran various fairs; she also grew up participating in them. KRCC's Andrea Chalfin sat down with Cummings on her first day on the fairgrounds to talk with her about the state of the State Fair.

Excerpts from the Interview:

On State Fair Finances and Local and State Subsidies:

"It's not uncommon for state fairs and agencies like convention centers and community centers to receive funding.  So that's certainly an integral part of the operation.  I think that it's very very important that the community, the state, understands the benefits that come from community events like the State Fair and what we offer the entire state…  That financial support is just such an important part of what we do.  Of course we want to operate and be as flush as possible. My goal here is to really analyze everything and see if there's any improvements that can be made."

Sarah Cummings, the new general manager of the Colorado State FairCredit Courtesy: Sarah Cummings
Sarah Cummings, the new general manager of the Colorado State Fair

On the State Fair Finances and Operational Losses:

"I am eager for the challenge [of breaking down line items]… to see if there's anything we can do to help close that gap.  I'm not sure we will ever entirely close that gap, which is why the state funding and state support is so important, but I'm certainly going do what we can to try and do to try and shrink it as much as possible."

On Trends for Attendance at the State Fair:

"As a fair, we offer an experience that people can't get anywhere else.  The State Fair experience is exclusive to what we do."

On the Question of Moving the State Fair from Pueblo:

"We have a beautiful facility here… I think trying to recreate that elsewhere would be difficult.  There are amazing traditions here and I think that that tradition is so important.  Walking around the grounds and really embracing that length of time, when you take a moment to really breathe all of that in, moving the Fair from its traditions… we would be at a loss.  There's such passion that's invested into this property and into the grounds to do what we do, I would believe that it would be showcased well during the Fair and it's just so appropriate that we keep it here."