State Fair of Virginia files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

One of the Commonwealth’s most historic and revered events has asked for legal protection as it tries to repay its outstanding debts. Is the fair at risk of becoming extinct?

The State Fair of Virginia (SFVA) announced that it has voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to restructure existing debts.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Curry A. Roberts, said that the bankruptcy filing will help the organization’s ailing financial portfolio that underlies its existing bank loan. SFVA owns less than half of the holdings it previously had in 2007. They claim that the majority of their losses came with the stock market drop in 2009, which has made the existing payment of both principle and interest impossible. Officials at SFVA assert that operations will continue in an otherwise normal fashion during the extent of the bankruptcy process.

“The State Fair has operated in Virginia for 157 years and we will take every step necessary to protect and continue this wonderful tradition,” Roberts said in a press release. “This is a one-time financial event which should support continued operations and allow SVFA to emerge with a sustainable financial structure. This is the responsible step to take to support the Fair and our other operations.”

SFVA, a 501-c3, not-for-profit company, says that 2011 looks to be its best year in terms of total number of events and attendance at its Doswell, Virginia location. Attendance at the 2011 State Fair posted a 32% increase over 2010.

“SFVA is much more than just one event,” Roberts said, “and we’re so much more than midway rides and fried candy bars. Each year we provide a venue for tens of thousands of youth and families to showcase their farm animals, enter apple pies and Brunswick stews in food competitions and display quilts, paintings and handmade crafts.”

Since 1989, more than $1.7 million of youth scholarship has been distributed to Virginia students so that the recipient may pursue post-secondary studies. The SFVA has been committed to raising money for youth to continue their education since the organization’s creation in 1854.

“We absolutely intend to emerge from this proceeding stronger than before with a sustainable financial model that will allow the State Fair of Virginia to build on its tradition of showcasing Virginia’s cherished agricultural and rural traditions for generations to come,” Roberts said.


photo by Taramisu

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