By JOHN SMALIGO
Tulsa County Commissioner, District 1
FAIRGROUND FUN: Enjoying a recent Expo Square event are, from left, Darryl Woodard, County Commissioner Fred Perry, Mike Spradling, a visiting equestrian association member and his horse and Commissioners Smaligo and Karen Keith.
Courtesy Tulsa County
This year marks the second time I’ve had the pleasure of serving as chairman of the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority. The authority is better known as the Fair Board, and it serves as the governing body over Expo Square.
Nearly every resident of Tulsa County attends at least one event at the fairgrounds each year. We all enjoy events like the Tulsa State Fair, auto shows, concerts, home and garden shows, rodeos, etc. Events like these come to Expo Square as attractions for residents of the Tulsa area. They make a big impact for us economically and provide several entertainment options.
Even with all the local events held, did you know that nearly as many people coming to Expo Square travel from out of town, out of state and even out of the country? Expo Square is one of the top destinations for tourists in the state. The primary reason for tourists at Expo Square is from livestock and equestrian-based events, shows and competitions.
It’s no secret that our livestock and barn facilities are world-class. One recent addition to the facilities is new livestock stalls. New stalls seem pretty trivial to most of us, but they’re a big deal for livestock and equestrian associations and groups. These additions help us bring more events to Expo Square.
We host international livestock and equestrian shows routinely, including the Pinto Horse Association World Championship, the Arabian Horse Championship, the American Hereford Association Junior Nationals, rodeos and more. These shows are major pieces of the foundation of events that we host at Expo Square. Shows like these bring people from across the U.S. and even international visitors.
The total adds up to nearly $150 million in economic impact each year to the Tulsa area economy. It means that businesses are busier, state and local governments collect more revenue and hundreds of jobs in the Tulsa area are supported. Restaurants and hotels specifically are major beneficiaries from these events.
Even through tough economic times, Expo Square has excelled in hosting about 400 events each year. The staff of Expo Square does an outstanding job booking events and making them feel welcome while they’re here. I can assure you that your Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority will continue to provide the leadership, advocacy and guidance that keep Expo Square as a key destination and economic engine for our region.