Eight months after the Pennsylvania state Farm Show Complex director resigned, and two months before the facility’s signature event, the post remains empty, according to a report in the Patriot News.
“We hope to announce the new director by the middle of November,” state Agriculture Secretary Dennis C. Wolff said. “We started with over 100 applicants and have had to narrow the field.”
The new manager will take over a facility in transition. Despite an $86 million expansion completed in 2003, occupancy is less than 40%. Higher rents drove out some of the larger shows, including the the Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show, although officials point to more bookings from smaller shows.
Andy Tiazkun, Farm Show budget and finance administrator, said rates rose about 7%, but the organizer of the RV show said the increase for that event was 29%.
“The Farm Show raised our rates and only gave us a one-year commitment,” said Rebecca Lenington, executive vice president of the Pennsylvania RV and Camping Association, which hosts the show.
The RV show, a tenant at the complex for 36 years, moved to the Giant Center in Hershey this year and Lenington reported attendance “increased dramatically.” The Giant Center committed five years to the show, which displays more than 1,200 RVs, she said.
The Farm Show complex gained eight shows and lost 14 in the 2003-04 fiscal year, and gained 11 shows and lost 10 in 2004-05, said Tiazkun.
The complex ended the past fiscal year with roughly $970,000 in “positive cash balance,” Tiazkun said. That includes state aid.
“We have fixed costs, whether we have anyone using the building or not,” Wolff said, referring to utilities and 60 full-time employees. “I don’t know if we’ll ever balance out the cost of operating it with revenues. We keep afloat with the legislative money, rentals and parking fees.”