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      Marketing, maintenance drive fairgrounds discussion

      Sabrina Graham speaks at a public forum on the Central Missouri Events Center Monday. Graham says the center has vast potential if it is promoted properly.

      Promotion and upkeep of the Central Missouri Events Center drove much of the discussion at Monday night??s public hearing on the center??s future.

      About 15 people turned out for the last of four such hearings on how to make the center, which includes the Boone County Fairgrounds, economically viable. Several people floated ideas ranging from an environmental research center and conference center to large-scale horse shows to car shows, but everyone at Monday??s meeting agreed the center needs to be promoted more heavily.

      ??We have a diamond in the rough,?? Boone County resident Sabrina Graham told KRCG 13. ??We have a facility that is ideally located. We have a facility with a lot of people surrounding it in agriculture and business and the University of Missouri services.??

      Roger Wilson, the chair of the task force charged with creating recommendations for the center and a former Missouri governor, told KRCG 13 public input has been overwhelming and has consistently centered around marketing.

      "What's happened is, we've hosted the events that have come to us, but we haven't done a good job of shaking the tree for other events," he said.

      He said the fairgrounds could be marketed to nonprofit organizations such as 4-H, FFA, the Boy Scouts and the Girls Scouts for their events. That possibility came up again during Monday night??s discussion. One local promoter proposed having local youth work at such events. Graham said this could be a good idea if it was combined with some sort of mentoring program.

      The task force has until Dec. 3 to come up with recommendations for the Boone County Commission on what to do with the center. Wilson said those recommendations would most likely be ready before that date.