LETTER: Commerce Secretary McCoy’s update on Cherokee Indian Fair and Fairgrounds

by Jun 24, 2022NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments


Siyo Cherokee Community!  Hopefully this message can clear up and provide some context regarding the news about the upcoming Cherokee Indian Fair.  We have gone through vigorous analysis of the best possible avenues for conducting the Fair, considering we have not been able to enjoy the event for several years due to the pandemic, but simply cannot take the risk of compromising the safety of our community.  My team understands the frustration of the late news and limited options but will work hard to make sure we can have an event that the community can enjoy.

Our team was notified about a structural crack and possible failure of the canopy system at the Fairground’s Amphitheater in April of this year that appeared to be caused by a high-wind incident.  An engineering company deemed the structure unusable and unsafe for general use, and this life-safety measure was supported by our Risk Management department.  It is important to know that this structure is nearing 20 years of use and has been developed into a Master Plan for renovation for many years.

Upon notification of the failed amphitheater, we sought out advice from our teams internally on what the next steps would need to be to remedy the situation.  It was decided that we needed to file an insurance claim for the damaged structure and utilize the manufacturer that installed the canopy to remove it safely.  The structure is made of high-tension cabling and floating masts that must be removed with care to prevent further damage to our structures and personnel completing the work.  We discovered a timeline for demolition that would extend us into late September or October for removal that put our plans for the Fair at risk.  Not sure of the current and future ability to make the demolition happen by that date is what lead us to make the change of venue for events scheduled at the Fairgrounds during those months.  Some events can still safely function there until late July should they not extend beyond the safe zone as we are in the process of securing funding and contracts to demolish.

Because of the age and condition of the facilities and need for additional space, we have decided to move forward with the remodel and execution of the Fairgrounds remodel as set out on the EBCI’s Strategic Plan and Master Plan.  The new facility will be much larger and provide for new events that can utilize the space that we currently cannot provide.  Further planning and design will occur over the next few months and be shared with the community for input and feedback.  We look forward to reopening the Fairgrounds with new facilities that every EBCI member can be proud of.

With the Fairgrounds offline starting in August, we wanted to locate some options to potentially have the Fair this year.  After meeting with the Fair Committee, we looked at the potential sites in town, including the former Elementary and High School sites.  At this time, the cost and ability to site prep those sites are not feasible, costing into the millions for grading, electrical, water and sewer, and other infrastructure that currently does not exist there.  There was also concern that because of the supply chain issues we face, we would not meet the timeline needed for the Fair to happen even if funding was secured.

The Fair Committee has agreed that the Convention Center space will work to host the Fair, as it has covered parking, adequate interior exhibit space, and a large parking lot that can hold an even larger midway with additional rides and entertainment.  Many planning meetings have taken place, and we continue to make sure this event space will safely host our community and allow us to come together once again.  There are many concerns that are being addressed, such as safety along the creekside and ensuring our elders can easily access the event area.  We are making safety plans as well as refining our operational weaknesses, something that will further strengthen our event planning for years to come.  There will be food and music and all of the wonderful arts and crafts that our community is well known for.  In the coming weeks, we will wrap up our planning and share the list of events scheduled for the upcoming Fair.

None of this will be perfect, and we will do our best to ensure everyone can participate as they desire.  It is important to remember that our community events are successful and enjoyable not because of the location they reside in, but because each of us get to come together as a family and share in our love and passion as Cherokee.  Gvgeyu.


Christopher McCoy,

EBCI Secretary of Commerce