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Over the past five years Redwood Acres in Eureka has had to find innovative ways to pay the bills after losing state fair funding. Now the fairgrounds is not only a great place for small businesses, it’s going to be home to food trucks.
Redwood Acres has been around since the 1930s and see all sorts of action, from being an agricultural facility to a horse track. But its executive director, Cindy Bedingfield, has endured some of the more difficult times.
“Redwood Acres was struggling horribly when we lost our state funding,” she says. “We get $40,000 now from the state and that doesn’t even cover admin costs let alone maintenance or infrastructure to our grounds. We were holding 700 events and still could not even begin to pay all of our expenses.”
However Redwood Acres has bounced back in a big way, proving that despite adversity it can be self-sustaining and a source of economic development. It now has more than 830 events per year, plus serves as an RV park, emergency evacuation location, and a business incubator — currently accommodating 15 business.
However, the business model continues to evolve, and Bedingfield aims to make every inch of the fairgrounds more profitable.
For example, the concession stand located in the grandstands is typically used during auto races, thus only bringing in revenue 12 to 14 days a year. Now it’s now being remodeled to serve as a commissary for food trucks and provide additional kitchen space to other entrepreneurs.
By law food trucks are required to report to a commissary; which should provide a commercial kitchen for food prep, a grease and graywater dump and truck storage. The Eureka City Council approved a mobile vending ordinance last July but currently there’s not a fully compliant food commissary for trucks in Humboldt County.
Plus, Eureka is lacking affordable community commercial kitchens in general, so the concession stand revamp will fill many voids.
“I think it’s going to work out really good,” said Bedingfield. “A little juggling with the concession stand, but we’re used to juggling out here.”
In this LoCO Video Report we hear more about the “incubating businesses” and get to check out the concession stand overhaul.
Stay tuned — we’ll next find out about ideas to accommodate more businesses wanting to get their foot in the door, and see what’s going on inside the former Arts & Crafts building.