MARIETTA - So many recreational vehicles owned by those working in the oil and gas industry were parked at the Washington County fairgrounds from November 2011 to May 2012 that the Washington County Fair Board was required to declare the fairground's main parking lot a RV park.
In a licensing and permit process that started in October 2011 and was completed recently, former fair board member Bonnie Gill, current fair board member Frank Tucker and other fair board members worked to complete all necessary steps in the process.
Now that all permits, licenses and insurance have been received for the Washington County Midway RV Park near the fairground's main entrance, the area can be used in multiple ways: as a RV park, parking lot and a midway for fair concessions, said Gill.
City and state licenses, permits and insurance were applied for and received including flood insurance that costs $100 annually; a RV park license costing $250 per year; and a one-time fee to the city of Marietta's engineering department for about $150.
Now, the RV park is licensed for 50 camping sites, with 25 utility poles and hookups for two RVs per pole. Sites offer RVers full hookup including electricity, water and sewer.
"It's a plus for an RV park to have full hookup," said Sandra Hickey, fair board treasurer.
RVs sit on the blacktop so they can hook up to utility boxes on the grass nearby.
With 48 spaces for rent, the RV park had an average of 25 spaces filled each month from fall 2011 to summer this year.
"The majority (of RVers) came starting in November 2011, and the majority left in May and June," said Hickey.
The monthly fee for staying in a site at the fairground's RV park is $275, with an overnight stay costing $20, said Hickey. The oil and gas-related campers who stayed at the park for several months in 2011 and 2012 "brought in about $28,000," she added.
"After it rained out at the fair in 2011, (that money) helped us out," said Paul Barth, fair board president.
Fair board secretary Jeremy Barth agreed.
"We were thankful (the RVers) were there," he said.
The revenue was "good for us," he added, and made it possible for the fair board to pay the majority of the bills for the 2012 fair.
Most of the pipeline workers camped at the fairgrounds worked for Price Gregory International, headquartered in Houston, Texas.
Residents raised concerns about overcrowding on the parking lot during the Washington County Fair and other events, said Jeremy Barth.
"During the Sternwheel Festival, the lot is totally full," said Paul Barth.
Because fair board members weren't sure if the RVers would still be in the RV park during the Washington County Fair, they began asking one another worried questions.
"We asked 'Where would we put them?' and 'Was there enough room in our regular fairground campground to put them there?' Jeremy Barth said.
People were also worried that visitors "couldn't see the Junior Fair Building with all the campers there," he added.
"It all seemed to work out," said Jeremy Barth.
The Washington County Fairgrounds is also home to a campground at the rear of the property that provides electricity and water for campers, and is mostly used during fair time.
During the big influx of RVers last fall, the Washington County Fair Board talked about opening an old mobile home park on the fairgrounds property.
"We talked about redoing it and seeing about applying for a permit," Jeremy Barth said. "It was more costly than we wanted to spend at the time."