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Operators of Pima County Fair saw 7% profit last fiscal year

Record attendance at the Pima County Fair in April helped boost profits for its operators by seven percent for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

An audit of the Southwestern Fair Commission showed that the fair itself, which attracted more than 318,000 visitors, brought in $5.2 million, a six-percent increase over the 2015 fair. The annual event accounts for 82 percent of the commission’s revenues.

Total commission revenues grew to $6.5 million and expenses were $6.1 million.

Horse and livestock events at the 640-acre fairgrounds near Houghton Road and Interstate 10 lost money but at a lower level than previous years. There are 23 horse events planned in the current fiscal year.

But the Sunset Cantina Bar and Grill, which operates during fairground events, had its first profitable year.

The audit, by the Tucson accounting firm Regier Carr and Monroe, LLP, CPAs, noted that Pima County has experienced a depressed economy since 2008 and that leading indicators show a slow but steady growth. 

Pima County relies heavily on tourism, and because the commission offers affordable entertainment, it continues to make money during depressed conditions, the auditors said.

The commission and fairgrounds also host many private events, such as concerts, exhibitions, RV shows, private parties and weddings. Other revenues include Tucson Speedway and Tucson Dragway leases.

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The commission is a nonprofit, private company that the county established in 1975 to operate the fairgrounds and fair. All profits go back to improvements. More than $5 million in improvements have been made and another $1 million are planned this year.

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