BROOKSVILLE — The begging gets old after a while.
"It's so hard asking people for money," Sandra Nicholson, president of the Hernando County Fair Association, said this week. "And we need so many things here."
In search of another source of money, the directors came up with a plan to start a thrift shop at the fairgrounds on U.S. 41 south of downtown Brooksville. Starting today, it will be open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
"We've got so many things, people donating stuff, a ton of stuff," Nicholson said.
As of midweek, association members Angela Okrasinski and Shari Klimas had gathered 11 pickup-truck loads of goods for sale.
Okrasinski, a new fair board member, came up with the idea and Klimas jumped at the opportunity. The duo has driven as far as Tampa to gather items, many of which "need a little TLC," Nicholson said.
Among the merchandise: lamps, chandeliers and other light fixtures, all tested to make sure they're in working order; a sofa, games, books and a wide selection of clothes, including a wedding gown.
"You name it; if it's in somebody's storage area, we've probably got it," Nicholson said.
The shop will open in the building across from the auditorium, the site of the educational exhibits during the fair, and near the weekend flea market outlet.
Nicholson emphasizes that the fair is a registered charity.
"A lot of people believe we get money from the county or the state," the manager said. "And we don't."
The only state funding comes from the Department of Agriculture and that money goes directly to exhibitors, not the association, Nicholson said.
Facilities accommodating the fair and many events for which the grounds are rented out require continual maintenance. There are also long-term and short term expansion plans.
High on the current list are panels for moving and housing livestock. "We keep borrowing them from the state fair," Nicholson said. Bringing in the panels and returning them requires a semi-trailer and a day's time each way, she noted. "We need to have them for the (animals) and for safety."
Previously announced for next year's fair are new and more welcoming facades on some of the buildings.
Farther in the future, the board would like to build a new main hall with an attached amphitheater. An architect already has drawn plans. Although a cost has not yet been calculated, Nicholson said her "wild guess" would be at least $500,000.
North American Midway, the fair's carnival provider and wintertime renter, has also proposed erecting a semi-closed pole barn for joint use by the firm and by the fair.
Beth Gray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.