WARSAW — A newly organized group that is relying on tax documents is questioning the need to revive motorized racing at the fairgrounds.
The fair board is locked in a lawsuit defending its efforts to once again organize motorized racing, arguing that events at the Warsaw Motorsports Complex at the fairgrounds is crucial its financial future.
A group of residents who live along Winona Lake near the fairgrounds filed suit more than a year ago seeking a court to enforce an agreement reached in 1990 that halted racing because of the noise it created. Last year, a judge temporarily halted racing at the truck until the suit is resolved.
The new group has launched an advertising campaign and a website, warsawfairfacts.com, that attempt to put in doubt the fair board’s contention that the fair’s future depends on generating new revenues from racing.
The fair board reneged on its agreement roughly three years ago when it began scheduling a handful of races each year at the fairgrounds. Neighbors eventually complained about the noise and eventually filed suit.
Attempts to compromise through a mediation session last year failed after fair officials said they’d like to have upward of 18 races each summer to help generate more money to run the fairgrounds.
A banner ad featuring seven rotating panels began running on InkFreeNews.com on Wednesday, May 29, downplaying the historical impact of racing revenues when it was allowed over a series of decades.
The group claims that “What the Kosciusko County Fair Board is telling the public and what they are telling the IRS are two different things.”
The ads then go on to claim that based on IRS records, that for many years, the average amount of racing revenues only amounted to about 8 percent of its operating budget. The highest percentage from racing in recent decades was 17 percent, according to the advertisement.
The website includes a copy of a letter issued by the fair board on May 3, 2018, in which the board claims that “Our main source of revenue is fundraisers held by the fair board and volunteers. The Warsaw Motorsports Complex is a large portion of that revenue.”
In another letter from the board issued in 2018, the board argues that they have tried various forms of ways to generate money. “The one thing we have learned from our years of experience is that this community prefers us to host the motorized events as they are the only events that consistently produced a positive revenue stream for our fairgrounds,” the letter said.
The website says that the four plaintiffs in the current suit — Merle Conner, (the late) Judith Conner, Mary Clemens, and Chris Cummins — are not involved with the website but adds that many other supporters are involved and eager “to challenge the countless mis-truths being spread by the current Fair Board and their advocates.”
Attempts to contact representatives for the group and the fair board were unsuccessful Wednesday afternoon.
The racing injunction was in effect last year and fair officials have said plans for entertainment at the 2019 Fair, which begins July 7, may be limited because of financial constraints.
(Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that one of the plaintiffs has died since the suit was filed. That person is still listed in court documents)