Volunteers work together for the overall success of the California Mid-State Fair

PASO Magazine’s annual “Fair Family” article, one that typically focuses on individual families and their contributions to the California Mid-State Fair, is taking a different approach this year as we shine the spotlight on the Heritage Foundation. When talking with CMSF Chief Executive Officer Michael Bradley, he praised the Heritage Foundation volunteers and noted how this team of dedicated individuals works together as a unique “family” for the overall success of the fair for generations to come.

“The Foundation is represented by dozens of families in our region,” said Bradley. “Their unique bond to a common cause is evident in their team philosophy to ensure the success of our Association. All the families create a singular family thicker than blood and stronger than emotional commitment. It is the dedication to build a better ‘gift’ to multiple generations of our region that binds their family ties. So many members have contributed to our success; the long list of accomplishments and individuals would fill this publication. Our future together is bright as we strengthen our relationship and advance America’s Favorite Fair.”

Giving back

The California Mid State Fair is looked upon as one of the best in North America and, according to Bradley, much of the fair’s success is due to the efforts of the Heritage Foundation.

“Their commitment to giving back and supporting the Association’s mission through investment, re-building, volunteerism, vision, and dedication is unequalled in our industry,” said Bradley. “This year’s reality of [the new 100,000 square foot under roof] Paso Robles Pavilion, funded exclusively by the Foundation and dedicated to our youth in 4-H and FFA, as well as the multi-use plans moving forward, is a milestone in non-profit engagement. It is the result and the realization of a significant goal by our community that will continue to provide service for generations.”

Currently, the Foundation boasts 300 members. Serving on the Heritage Foundation Board of Directors are: Dave Belmont, chairman; Daren Friedle, vice chairman; Debbie Dusi, secretary; Deana Nelson, financial officer, along with Susan Beebe, Mike Coon, Joanne Cummings, Brenda Fletcher, Tim Hartzell, Patricia Lawrence, John Peschong, Hugh Pitts, Michael Torgerson, and Denise Stornetta.

“Our members are people who want to give back to our community,” said Belmont, a charter member of CMSFHF. “There are generations of families involved in the Mid-State Fair and the Heritage Foundation. We enjoy giving back and seeing how the fairgoers appreciate the projects and improvements we have made over the years.”

Working together

The CMSFHF was introduced during a dinner party hosted for key community leaders, past and current board of directors, and corporate sponsors in late May 1999, according to information on the group’s website. The goal, with only 10 weeks until the start of that year’s fair, was to secure 20 memberships; by opening day 1999 there were 100 members.

The first major project was a 200×300 foot covered arena completed in July 2000. Since then, CMSFHF has donated over $8,000,000 worth of capital improvements to the fair grounds and are debt-free. The Foundation has provided hog panels, shade cloths, scales, and more. Key projects over the years include the covered equestrian arena, the sales ring building, modified arena grandstands, the Heritage Building, and Commercial Building 3.

“We are proud of all the Foundation has achieved over the years,” “said Belmont. “We definitely enjoy our partnership with the Fair as we work together to improve the fairgrounds and everything that happens here.”

The Heritage Foundation’s latest project, the Pavilion, broke ground just weeks after the 2016 CMSF ended and is located on the northeast side of the fairgrounds. In addition to CMSF, the Pavilion will be used during interim events throughout the year. Heritage Foundation members encourage all fairgoers to stop by and see the new Pavilion. A dedication ceremony is tentatively set for July 17; call the CMSF office at (805) 239-0655 for more information.

“All of the 4-H and FFA kids and their animal projects will truly benefit from this new addition to the fair,” said Fletcher. “The original building was from the 1950’s and had become inadequate. We’d wanted to do a project like this since 2008, and we were finally able to take on the financial aspects and make it a reality. It is a clear, open-span building so it’s a much more modern facility in terms of space and ventilation; the kids deserve this and that is always our goal.”

The mission statement of the Heritage Foundation is clear: To preserve and enrich the heritage of the 16th District Agricultural Association and showcase agricultural industries to the community; to offer support to the 4-H and FFA projects and create agricultural education opportunities; maintain a standard of excellence in the facilities and create capital improvement opportunities, and to serve as an arm of the California Mid-State Fair that can accept charitable donations.

One hundred percent of all monies received through membership and fundraising events for the CMSF Heritage Foundation go back into the Mid-State Fair and Paso Robles Events Center.  During the fair, they have five popular concessions on the fairgrounds that help raise funds including the Island Bar & Grill. Recently, the CMSFHF was one of three title charities of proceeds from the CowParade throughout SLO County.

“A lot of what brings all of our members together is our love of the Mid-State Fair and our desire to give back to the Fair,” said Fletcher. “Most of our board members have shown animals at the fair, their children have shown, or their grandchildren have shown, so we have that common interest that keeps us together; we truly are a family.”

For more information, contact the CMSF Heritage Foundation at (805) 238-3745 or see www.thecmsfheritagefoundation.org; be sure to give them a “like” on Facebook at California Mid-State Fair Heritage Foundation.