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Former State Fair president says creditors should have negotiated a deal to avoid the bankruptcy auction
Date published: 5/31/2012
It has been just more than a week since the Meadow Event Park in Caroline County was sold, and the new owner's plans for a 10-day fair starting in September are still in development.
But with a $5.35 million winning bid, previous fair officials wonder if it was really worth all the bother.
In an interview, Curry Roberts, former president of the State Fair of Virginia, said he was not surprised at how low the winning bid was. He said when former fair officials were preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the creditors asked him what he thought it was worth.
"I told them between $5 and $5.5 million, and they asked me if I thought they were fools," Roberts said. "I hate to be proven correct through these circumstances, but ultimately we were correct."
Universal Fairs President Mark Lovell made the
Lovell said his Tennessee-based company plans to operate the fair this year from Sept. 28 to Oct. 7. He said he plans to keep the livestock exhibits and agricultural feel of the fair.
During the rest of the year, he plans to host a number of consumer shows, weddings, banquets, the Celtic Festival and possibly music festivals.
Universal Fairs puts on a variety of fairs, festivals and expos across the nation, including the recently acquired Georgia State Fair.
Roberts said he hopes Universal Fairs can uphold the 150-year tradition of the State Fair of Virginia.
"It was run, operated and managed by Virginians for Virginians because it was to showcase the best of Virginia," he said. "I'm curious to see how an events promotion company for a profit from Memphis is going to carry on those traditions."
The State Fair of Virginia Inc. filed a federal lawsuit against Universal Fairs in 2009 claiming that Universal's planned Richmond Fair was infringing on its trademark and was misleading vendors and potential fairgoers. The parties settled the lawsuit, and the Richmond Fair was never held.
Lovell said earlier that he was familiar with the lawsuit but not directly involved with it.