When you came to the summer Orange County Fair, what did you get for your dollar spent?
Besides admission and parking, did you get a deep-fried-something, a seat in The Hangar, a cowboy hat or maybe a ride on La Grande Wheel?
Hopefully, you had the time of your life as well. The O.C. Fair is in the business of fun. So, fun, food, rides and entertainment.
Did you know the O.C. Fair & Event Center (OCFEC) receives no taxpayer funding and is fully supported, purely and voluntarily, by you? Not one dollar from the taxes each of us pays to the state of California is directed away from schools, fire, health or safety to support the OC Fair & Event Center, even though OCFEC is as much government as a public agency that delivers any of the above-identified services.
While the land is an asset of taxpayers, not one activity on the property utilizes a single tax dollar. That, by the way, includes — and this is important — all the capitol improvements and enhancements of the property, which, by the end of 2013, will total nearly $30 million invested.
Guess who funded those improvements, beautification and modernization?
You, the user.
So when you heeded the call of "Let's Eat" at the 2011 OC Fair, let me tell you what else was called for. You very smartly ordered and paid for entrees like $4.5 million in improvements that will modernize the Pacific Amphitheatre, $3.6 million in beautification efforts at the Main Mall, side dishes of new restrooms, and luscious greens in the form of pleasing landscaping.
All funded with the nickels left over after OCFEC paid its operating costs and without one dollar spent resulting in debt. Thirty million dollars worth of expenditures, free and clear of a banker's note. Improvements paid for 100% by and 100% owned by you.
I encourage you to continue coming here for fun while becoming keenly aware that when you pay your "voluntary tax" dollar to this government agency, you get each penny reinvested directly for the purpose in which you spent it.
Is there a better return-on-investment proposition out there?
I think not.
Your kids, grandkids and grandkids' kids will be the beneficiaries of your current investment for generations to come.
Over the next 18 months, watch your non-taxpayer dollars at work in service of making your life better, more enjoyable and, by all means, more fun, all brought to you by, well, you.
Your fair and fairgrounds are here to stay and is, as the Beatles said, "getting better all the time!"
STEVEN BEAZLEY is the president and chief executive of the O.C. Fair. He lives in Costa Mesa.
Editor's note: This piece originally appeared in the fair's quarterly newsletter.