BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Fair Association has been given the green light by the state to have its annual county fair in April.
Carl Penn, fair program administrator with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, confirmed in an email Thursday that the department had received the required documents from the fair association, including proof of liability insurance and a verified 2013 financial report.
The issue of whether the fair would go on as scheduled came up last month after a subcommittee of the fair board criticized fair leaders for an eight-month delay in completing the financial report needed to obtain its state permit. Board spokeswoman and former fair president Sandra Nicholson said that because last year's fair posted attendance of less than 25,000, an internal report signed by a public officer would be sufficient to meet the state's requirements.
Nicholson then approached Clerk of the Court and Comptroller Don Barbee, who refused to sign the report. Barbee then notified deputy county attorney Jon Jouben in an email, explaining why he wouldn't cooperate with the fair board's request.
"While my office might be the most logical choice, I am not comfortable spending taxpayer dollars to audit and review the finances of the fair association which would be necessary prior to affixing my signature to the application," Barbee wrote.
Jouben later notified county commissioners that, in his opinion, the reference to "public officer'' in state law meant that one of the county's five elected constitutional officers would have to sign the financial report.
Nicholson later told the Tampa Bay Times that fair board members had chosen to hire an accountant to complete the financial report. That firm was Kierzynski & Associates of Spring Hill.
The Hernando County Fair and Youth Livestock Show will run from April 4 to 12 at the fairgrounds on the south side of Brooksville.
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.