Gold County Fairgrounds opens picnic area partnering with local restaurants

Local News

AUBURN, Calif. (KTXL) — As the state begins to reopen, large event venues are beginning to book gatherings again such as the Gold Country Fairgrounds and Events Center in Auburn.

The Gold Country fairgrounds is home to the Placer County Fair and popular events like the Mountain Mandarin Festival. Around 300 events yearly are booked there but for the last year it’s been empty as events were canceled during the pandemic.

As the pandemic subsides, the fairgrounds is rehiring laid off staff and is gearing up for a turnaround.

“The phones are starting to ring again and we’re starting to book events and people aren’t as afraid to book now,” said Gold Country Fairgrounds and Events Center CEO Don Alves.

Although, that’s not to say business will be as usual.

It’s undertaking a different marketing strategy by partnering with Old Town Pizza, which built an outdoor pavilion at the fairgrounds.

As difficult as the pandemic has been, some businesses are optimistic.

The downtown location still drew businesses, but outdoor dining in tents was limiting.

“Just decided to focus a lot of effort on this specific space and to create this open air environment to where they feel comfortable,” Old Town Pizza co-owner Kelly Bewley said.

It was built with social distancing in mind and an outdoor wine and beer bar with local offerings that fits in with safety guidelines.

The picnic and shade areas on the fairgrounds gives customers dining flexibility and fairground events will bring in customers once more events are booked.

“We love it,” said Marissa Leahy, Old Town Pizza customer.

Leahy and her daughter Emma Lyn say people are used to eating outdoors and tents by now.

“I think we’ve accustomed to it and now we’re doing it in a way that’s not shoved in a tent, it’s a beautiful bar here and it’s a beautiful area to hang out and so I think this is the thing we might start seeing,” Leahy said.

Dining options include the fairgrounds large lawn area for picnicking.

Since Old Town Pizza moved in three other restaurants planning to open across the way, all will take advantage of outdoor music, a farmers market and crafts booths that are planned for what the fairgrounds will call the Miner’s Market.

“The local businesses will get a chance to put money back in their coffers and we basically shut down since march of last year we need that too so it’s a win win for everybody,” Alves said.

Many of  the large events are being booked for June and July and a fully opened Placer County Fair is scheduled for September.

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