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How Glen Ellen puts on a fair

How Glen Ellen puts on a fair


A message from the treasurer for the Glen Ellen Village Fair

By Shannon Lee

The Glen Ellen Fair Association is happy to announce that we are 95 percent certain there will be a fair this year and we are 80 percent certain that it will be the same wonderful event as always. COVID-19 uncertainty is driving these completely made-up numbers as we are a little bit in limbo waiting for the county permit process and the Delta variant prevalence to play out over the next several months.

The biggest up-in-the-air aspects are — 1) clearance to conduct a parade, we will do a car cruise in its place if that’s the only option; 2) how many vendors we will be allowed what types, and what sort of spacing will be needed; 3) additional safety protocols that we will need to adopt; 4) requirement and details to provide a designated safe eating area; and 5) anything else that hasn’t bubbled up yet in our discussions with the county, the California Highway Patrol (CHP), and our insurance company.

And that brings me to the core of this message. We all love the fair. Some of us know just how much time and effort and people it takes to make this annual event run. A few of us really understand the official paperwork and finances required. So here it is, all the “behind the scenes” info.

The Glen Ellen Fair Association is a registered nonprofit with a singular annual event held the second Sunday of October from noon to 5pm. Our mission is to provide a small town celebration and to be able to donate out to other nonprofits and services in the community. Think of these as two prongs that are connected but independent endeavors.

I’ll start with the second prong— our ability to donate out to the community. The funds for this come from our annual quilt raffle. We are required to register our raffle, report our raffle, and to donate out at least 90 percent of the net proceeds. We typically choose to donate out 100 percent. Even last year, we were still able to run a quilt raffle, and through the generous donations from people like you, we sent out checks totaling $900. This year we will hold a quilt raffle again, regardless of a fair — look for information on this coming soon.

Now to the first prong— our small-town celebration. To put on a street fair, we are required to obtain event/volunteer insurance, a county special event permit, and to enter into a contract with the CHP to help us with closing and monitoring the road during set-up, initial clean-up, and the event itself. All of these represent expenses, and all of these have been rising costs over the years, often catching us off guard (i.e. difficult to plan for). In recent years we have also been providing a small stipend to the main stage musical acts as well as a sound equipment provider and manager. Finally, there is a bucket of small expenses that cover our post office box, correspondence with our vendors, production of posters and signage, etc. Our average expense to mount the annual fair is now in the realm of $6,000. This expense is offset by the income generated from booth fees paid by the vendors at the fair and by direct donations to the nonprofit. These are our sole sources of income for the event itself.

In 2020 when everything was canceled, we still had expenses (final bill from CHP, insurance) but without our fair event, we had no income. Holding some contingency money into the next year is built into our budget, so we have been solvent during this holding period. We also canceled the insurance renewal as we’ve waited to see what will happen in fall 2021. The contingency buffer we have is not, however, enough to sustain us on comfortable footing coming into this fall’s fair. We have several up-front costs that must be taken care of before we begin to collect the income from our vendors – namely, our insurance and our special event permit. We could raise our booth fees, but we’d rather not do that at our first post-pandemic event.

This is where you come in. We have a goal to raise $4500 by Sept 15. We are happy to receive direct donations via check made out to Glen Ellen Fair Association, P.O. Box 96, Glen Ellen, CA 95442. We are also going to launch an online T-shirt/sweatshirt sale through Custom Ink that opens July 16 and closes on July 30. A portion of each item sold will come to us as a donation. Please just go to the Custom Ink website, click the “fundraisers” tab, and then put Glen Ellen Save Our Fair in the “find a campaign” search bar. As always you can reach the fair through email at [email protected] and through our Facebook page at Glen Ellen Village Fair.

Thank you in advance and don’t forget to save the date: Sunday Oct 10.