Mid-State Fair

Remember when M.C. Hammer played at the Mid-State Fair?

Remember when M.C. Hammer performed at the 1991 Mid-State Fair? Well, not everyone was thrilled about it. He was paid a record $475,000, and some thought his appearance would bring a bunch of "undesirables" to town. Heck, some weren't pleased with the fair at all. Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em.

Here's the story from April 11, 1991: "Hammer gets $475,000; fair gets gripes"

A former batboy for the Oakland A’s will get $475,000 for doing two shows at the Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles.

Rap recording superstar M.C. Hammer will put on two grandstand shows on the evening of Aug. 3. His contract, approved Wednesday morning by the fair board, gives him a flat fee of $450,000, plus $25,000 for expenses.

Fair Manager Maynard Potter said it was the largest entertainment contract in the history of the fair industry in the United States.

He also said it isn’t surprising that the fair in Paso Robles would set such a record, because last year it took in more money for show tickets than any other fair in the country.

He also reported that for the first three days of ticket sales, which started Saturday, the fair sold 6,792 tickets to the Hammer shows.

Potter said Hammer is now about one-third paid for. “It’s not going to be a problem,” he assured the board.

He also said Hammer will have 40 people with him on stage and a total of 140 people in his company.

But booking Hammer has also brought on some criticism.

Potter gave the board copies of an unsigned letter he recently received. “Dear Sir.” It said. “Have you gone insane??? What can you possibly be thinking by trying to bring rapper M.C. Hammer to the fair?

“Do you realize what you are doing by bringing in an undesirable element with all the problems they will cause?

“How about the gang fights — riots — drugs — destruction of propertyetc?”

Similar fears were voiced at Monday night’s City Council meeting by council members Jerry Reneau and Nick Russell.

Besides attracting undesirable people, they said, the fair costs the city money.

Reneau, who owns a new car dealership, also said local business is dead before, during and after the fair because local people spend their money at the fair instead of at local businesses.

“The fair hurts bad; it has for 20 years,” Reneau said.

Referring to a proposal the fair board rejected a few years ago to move the fair to the Santa Margarita Ranch, Reneau said, “As a businessman, I wish it were in Santa Margarita.”

But Potter retorted that the fair increases business for many local restaurants and motels.

“If they’re not happy with us here,” he said, “we’ll be glad to move.”

Potter also said he was shocked at statements about undesirable elements, adding that critics ought to look at their own city. The fair, he said, attracts a higher class of people than the city attracts on a permanent basis.

“The fair hasn’t had 10 drug busts in one day,” he said, as the city did last week.

People who have such fears, Potter said, just don’t know Hammer.

Fair board member Jo Ann Switzer said Hammer’s message is “Up with hope and down with dope.”

Fair board President Dick Nock said he’s heard lots of 8- to 10-year-olds are coming to the show and bringing their parents.

Potter said one of the fair’s security officials who has worked at Hammer concerts in Los Angeles said about 65 percent of the audience was families.

Potter said this is the first time the fair has presented two shows by a superstar on a Saturday night. He predicted attendance that day will be between 55,000 and 60,000 people.

But he said he is confident the fair can handle that many people, pointing out that Lionel Ritchie put on two sold-out shows one night during the 1984 fair.

From April 11, 1991: Hammer gets $475,000; fair gets gripes

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