Good news for horse racing at Humboldt County Fair

Mary Bullwinkel

Beacon Correspondent

When Humboldt County Fair board members said thank you to sponsors at a dinner last Monday night, they also announced some good news regarding horse racing at the event held every August in Ferndale.

Humboldt County Fair General Manager Richard Conway said there could be two weeks of racing dates without overlap awarded to the Humboldt County Fair in the years 2014 and 2015.

The recommendations came at a recent membership meeting of the California Association of Racing Fans in Sacramento.

The news comes on the heels of several tumultuous months for the board, including a vote against extending the contract of longtime fair General Manager Stuart Titus, who is also the mayor of Ferndale. His contract ended Feb. 28, after 22 years of service. Some board members resigned in the vote's aftermath, and others receive subpoenas from the county grand jury.

Humboldt County Fair special counsel James Morgan said he was one of several local fair representatives attending that meeting.

"This meeting's outcome represents an unprecedented enhancement of the racing and revenue producing opportunities that could be available to the Humboldt County Fair going forward," he said. "In fact, it has the potential to more than double the revenue from previous years."

Initially, the association's meeting agenda proposed racing dates with significant portions of Humboldt County's dates running in competition with simultaneous race meets in Sonoma County Fair and/or Golden Gate Fields. Conway said he reminded the CARF membership committee "that when Humboldt County races without overlap, enough money is generated to add tens of thousands into a consolidated purse fund that benefits all CARF members."

"We've had incredible response already from some very well-known trainers about their excitement and planned participation in this year's horse racing meet," he added.

Several longtime trainers are planning to bring more horses this year. One trainer, Tim Belassis, will return to the fair after an absence of several years.

"The racing is shaping up to be better than ever this year," Conway said, "and the potential for increased revenue in future years is very exciting for both the fair and our local community."

In addition to thanking sponsors for continuing support of the Humboldt County Fair, the theme for this year's gathering was also announced. "A Tribute to Agriculture, A Tribute We Treasure" is the theme for the 117th annual Humboldt County Fair, taking place August 14-25 in Ferndale.

Photo by Heather Nyberg-Schlotzhauer/Beacon

The new Board of Directors for the Humboldt County Fair gathered around this years themed poster for the 2013 Humboldt County Fair.