The Enumclaw Expo Center is one of biggest cogs in city’s economic machine — so when it was unable to host any of its summer events, from the Highland Games to the the annual Pro Rodeo, the lack of crowds and shoppers made its mark on the Plateau.
To help the Expo Center recover some funds and keep it running though these unprecedented times, the King County Council has granted $49,500 to the event center as part of the county’s fourth COVID-19 Omnibus budget.
“I’m glad to be able to support the Enumclaw community as they find creative ways to adapt to safety and health requirements,” King County Councilman Reagan Dunn, who represents Enumclaw on the council and championed the grant, said in a press release. “It was a high priority for me to help get the Expo Center the funding it needs to make it through these tough economic times because the Enumclaw Expo plays a critical role as the host of mainstay community events, including King County Fair. This funding will go far in keeping treasured traditions alive.”
Nearly $50,000 could seem a like a lot of money to some, but it’s only a fraction of the money the Expo Center itself has lost, and a drop in the bucket when compared to how much business Expo Center events brings to the rest of the city.
“With a net income loss of over $500,000 in five months, Expo is extremely thankful for Councilmember Dunn supporting our efforts,” Enumclaw Expo Center General Manager Rene Popke said in the same press release. “Fair impact studies report that every dollar a fair takes in generates approximately $4.50 for the region. The ability to offer something at Expo gets us back to providing an economic boost to our surrounding communities. We know that Expo will be able to generate revenue again if we can get through this very unusual year, so we are beyond thankful for this bridge funding grant.”
The grant will go toward funding handwashing stations and outdoor tents in order to comply with social distancing guidelines, as well as drive-in theater equipment in order to continue hosting community events like the showing of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” which is happening this Saturday, Sept. 12.
Tickets to the event are free, so if there’s still some to be had, you can reserve your spot at https://www.enumclawexpo.com/.
The Expo Center is also planning to use some funding to rent additional tables and chairs for local restaurants as they expand into the streets to allow more people to dine out safely.
Besides continuing to plan drive-in movies, the Expo Center is hoping to host additional community events in the fall and winter, including a Hometown Holiday drive-through light display around the holiday season.
“With the cancellation of high profile and high revenue events, the grant provided to [the] Enumclaw Expo Center by the King County Council is greatly appreciated by our community and Expo Association,” Enumclaw Mayor Jan Molinaro said in the release. “This will assist the Expo Center to continue towards better times and the great events that they have hosted over the many years and decades like the King County Fair… I thank Councilmember Reagan Dunn and all other King County Councilmembers that supported the funding.”