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Wednesday, September 12, 2012


‘Honey, I bought a fair!’
 
 
The State Fair of Virginia’s 331-acre home is known as The Meadow. It was purchased earlier this year by Universal Fairs owner Mark Lovell. Illustrates STATEFAIR-ADV01 (category l) by Ken Otterbourg, special to The Washington Post. Moved Thursday, August 30, 2012. (MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Norm Shafer).
By KEN OTTERBOURG
from: The Washington Post
September 11, 2012
DOSWELL, Va. – Before bankers make a big deal, they like to run something called a Monte Carlo. It is named for the city in Monaco and its gambling houses, and it works like this: The lenders plug in the numbers and variables of a deal, then run a series of complex computer simulations to see what can go wrong. The fewer avenues to failure, the more confidence there is in a project’s success.

But as anyone who has ever lost money on a sure thing can attest, the odds are only odds. They are predictive – but only to a point. Which is why a few months back on a beautiful spring day, there was an auction in Caroline County, Va., just beyond the shadow of the monster roller coaster at Kings Dominion. What all the Monte Carlos had indicated was extremely unlikely to happen had in fact happened.

The auction was not that different from the hundreds of thousands of foreclosure sales that have taken place on courthouse steps across America. A borrower had taken on too much debt and couldn’t repay the loans. The lenders’ patience was exhausted, and the negotiations through the bankruptcy process had failed. All that was left on this day was the singsong chant of the auctioneer that ends with the word “sold.”

The 331-acre property belonged to the State Fair of Virginia, which, for most of the past 150 years, has been the annual event where kids from the country showed sheep and where folks from the city wandered around eating corn dogs. In many places, the state fair is run by the government. Not in Virginia. A nonprofit group ran the fair. It had a board filled with important people who know how to get things done. They borrowed $85 million to build a new fairgrounds here, beyond the sprawl. Maybe it was a sound bet, but it was a bet just the same, and when circumstances changed, they lost everything and had to sell it all, down to the dirt.
http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/living/lifestyles/974827-469/honey-i-bought-a-fair.html#

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