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Annual Tri-State Fair Parade cancelled: City of Amarillo no longer able to adsorb costs

A long standing Amarillo and area tradition is no more. Citing financial issues and safety concerns, the executive board of the Tri-State Fair & Rodeo announced the cancellation of the annual Tri-State Fair Parade in downtown Amarillo.

"In the past, the City of Amarillo has been kind enough to absorb many of the costs associated with the parade. Several of the costs include barricades and officers for safety and security (costing around $7,000 for a parade that size).

"Unfortunately, the city will not be able to absorb those costs any longer, and the Tri-State Fair does not have access to that kind of money in the budget," the organization said in a statement.

The Tri-State Fair & Rodeo did not say if the parade would return in the future.

“We are sad we have to cancel the parade,” said Virgil Bartlett, general manager of the Tri-State Fair. “We are fortunate that the City of Amarillo has been able to assist with this event for many years. This is the largest parade in this area. We could not have had such a successful parade for all these years without the City’s help. We cannot thank them enough.”

This City of Amarillo issued a brief statement about the cancellation and the future of other parades in the city.

"Last year, 94 parade permits were issued by the City of Amarillo. In the past, the City has provided support services which could include police presence, barricades and trash clean-up. When services are provided for parades or events, cost incurred by the City could be up to $15,000 per event.

"Providing this level of in-kind support from the City creates a financial burden to tax payers, which led to the decision to pass the cost on to parade and event organizers. This decision will save taxpayers significant dollars annually. The City encourages event organizers to seek sponsorships or private funds to cover the support costs.

"A year ago, the City notified the Tri-State Fair organizers about this change allowing time for planning; however, as of today, their board announced the parade cancellation. The Tri-State Fair has been a great partner with Amarillo, and we are ready to provide services for future parades and events," the city said.

Amarillo City Manager Jared Miller confirmed the city notified fair officials in 2017 that the organization would have to start footing the bill for overtime costs for city employees working the parade.

"We love doing parades and we love helping people do parades but there's a lot of costs associated with it, so this policy is really designed more to just recover those costs.

"If you consider the overtime cost for security of intersection for laying out barricades from public works, cleaning up after some of the events with parks personnel and other personnel, there are a lot of costs associated with supporting these parades and it is anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 a parade and those are general estimates.

"We really do want to help them raise the money if they want to do the parade, we want to help them find a way to do the parade but from an overtime standpoint, from a budgetary standpoint, our tax rate really isn't designed to be able to provide a half a million or more in overtime costs to support parades," Miller said.

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