Event cancellations cost area venues

By Tara Jones - tjones@limanews.com

LIMA — Area entertainment venues are starting to feel the effects financially of having to cancel or postpone events as a result of the novel coronavirus.

The Allen County Fairgrounds and Van Wert’s Niswonger Performing Arts Center each reported more than $100,000 in lost revenue while Veterans Memorial Civic Center is totaling “hundreds of thousands” according to CEO Abe Ambroza.

These centers are not only home to some of the area’s largest acts but are also rental spaces for graduations, dance recitals and countless other community events — all of which were put on hold.

On Monday, the Allen County Fairgrounds announced that the 35th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Ohio 4-Wheel Jamboree Nationals, originally slated for June 12 through 14, has been postponed to October.

The Jamboree remains one of the largest tourist attractions in Lima each year, so fairgrounds general manager Bob Fricke said he’s relieved they were able to reschedule the three-day event instead of having to cancel entirely.

“We’re trying to get as much rescheduled for this year that we can,” Fricke said. “(Cancellations) definitely affect us as a business along with hotels, restaurants and everybody else that benefits from the events when we have them at the fairgrounds. We are all feeling that same pain that just no revenue is coming in right now.”

After having to cancel March’s Lima Noon Optimist Home and Garden Show, Fricke said they are now facing the probable cancellation of hosting the American Maine Anjou Association National Junior Heifer Show at the end of June.

“It was going to rival one of the largest events we’ve ever had with 28 states represented with livestock and exhibitors” Fricke explained. “It was going to be a full-grounds activity for a week. That one, we just had to pull the plug on it.”

As of now, Fricke said the Allen County Fair is still “a full go,” including the Brad Paisley concert.

Despite a rough summer, each venue is looking to potentially one of their best fall seasons to date as events get rescheduled.

“Once we hit the fair in August, September is completely booked right now and October is filling up nicely especially with the Jamboree,” Fricke said. “The summer is where we are the heaviest of course, but we’re still very optimistic that all of our fall events will stay in place and hopefully we get back to a little bit of normal by then.”

However, with fall will also likely come the return to school and organized sports resuming — something these centers have always battled scheduling against — on top of competing for already sparse patron dollars.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how we can get it all to work together,” Ambroza said. “A lot of summer events are getting moved to the fall and relying on that, so it could be a really crowded time when it comes to entertainment options.”


By Tara Jones


Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.

Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.

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