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Cloverdale Rodeo Association will no longer run Fairgrounds

City of Surrey to take over Cloverdale Fairgrounds operation
Map of the Cloverdale Fairgrounds. (Image via City of Surrey)

The Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association will no longer be running the Cloverdale Fairgrounds.

The City of Surrey informed the Association July 8 that it would be invoking its 120-day clause, allowing the City to take over operations.

The Association is paid about $400,000 per year to run the Fairgrounds for the City and to host the Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair. The Association will continue to operate only the Rodeo and Fair.

“The City of Surrey and the Lower Fraser Valley Exhibition Association announce an upcoming change to the operation of the Cloverdale Fairgrounds,”according to a press release on the Cloverdale Rodeo website.

The two groups will begin working on an agreement for City Hall to take over the management and operations of the entire Fairgrounds.

The Association will then have a singular focus of planning and running just the Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair.

“This transition will likely take several months,” the release notes. “In the meantime, the Association will continue planning for the next Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair for May 20-23, 2022.”

Association president Shannon Claypool told the Cloverdale Reporter he’s optimistic about the City assuming control and he looks forward to the upcoming negotiations.

“We are very excited for this new opportunity to make our historic Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair bigger and better with the financial support of the City. We will negotiate a new agreement and partnership with the City and we will only put on the Rodeo and Fair.”

Claypool said the Association has run the Country Fair since its inception and the Rodeo since 1945.

“The Association was founded in 1888 and we’ve been the caretaker and owner of the grounds and Rodeo until about 50 years ago when the Association got into some financial trouble.”

Claypool said that financial trouble amounted to about $200,000 of debt, which the City paid off. They then gave the Association $1 for the 120 acres of Fairgrounds.

“We’ve been managing and operating since then.”

Claypool added there will be a lot of little details to be worked out with the City during negotiations.

He said the Association still owns the Rodeo and the Fair. “We’ll work with the City to manage our four-day event.”

Claypool said non-union staff will continue to work for the Rodeo, while unionized staff will become City employees.

The Association was in the middle of a three-year term to operate the Fairgrounds. The deal, running from 2020-2022, gives the Rodeo $400,000 per year to operate the grounds.

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“The Cloverdale Rodeo has been very successful negotiating contracts with the movie industry and that has allowed them to pivot during COVID to remain financially viable. And by doing so, it hasn’t cost the taxpayers a cent this year” [because the City hasn’t had to pay for operations].

For instance, a Warner Bros. owned set for the TV show Superman and Lois has been built on the northeast corner of the Fairgrounds. The deal will net about $1.5 million over three years with an option for Warner Bros. to rent the area for an additional three years.

There have also been other major productions on the Fairground, such as Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

Claypool is uncertain about what will happen to the Rodeo in a “rain-out year,” as revenue always dips to below profitable levels and the Association has used other events on the grounds to subsidize the Rodeo.

“The Rodeo generates other revenue to help cover losses.”

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Malin Jordan

About the Author: Malin Jordan

Malin is the editor of the Cloverdale Reporter.
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