Hat Creek and the Lassen County Fair featured in JDX KSUE Interview


In October 2023, Perry Thompson, CEO and President of Hat Creek Construction & Materials, Inc., and Kaitlyn Downing, Manager for the Lassen County Fair, joined JDX KSUE for a radio interview on how the fair catalyzes community growth and corporate responsibility.


  • The Lassen County Fair, the largest event in the county, has once again proved to be a resounding success. With over 31,000 attendees in 2023, the Fair not only broke records in attendance but also set a new high with its junior livestock auction, generating over $440,000 in sales. 
  • The Lassen County Fair is more than just an annual event; it catalyzes community growth and corporate responsibility. Through the combined efforts of the community and sponsors like Hat Creek Construction, the Fair continues to provide valuable experiences for young people, shaping the leaders of tomorrow while strengthening the bonds within the community today.
  • Hat Creek has supported county fairs – including Lassen County, Intermountain, Plymouth, Quincy, Alturas, McArthur, Shasta District, and Red Bluff – for over 50 years because they foster a sense of camaraderie among community members. County fairs also provide an excellent platform for children to become entrepreneurs (e.g., by participating in the Jr. Livestock Auction), teaching them responsibility, teamwork, and the importance of hard work. These lessons, Perry believes, are integral to shaping a strong work ethic among the next generation. 


“Kaitlyn’s team just does an awesome job. This is one of the most well-run fairs that we've been involved with, and not many fairs can say they're growing and thriving. Kaitlyn can say that, and it's because her team is so good, and they execute. They don't waste the dollars that are generously given by this community to help grow, and I'm just really proud to be a small part of it.” – Perry Thompson, President and CEO of Hat Creek Construction & Materials, Inc.

“We are super thankful for Perry and his team at Hat Creek. Whether we have a new event coming up that needs a little extra support or a project on grounds, his team is always happy to come by and give us their honest opinion and feedback, and are willing to support whatever it has, especially for the youth activities in the community. We're super fortunate to have them in our community.” – Kaitlyn Downing, Manager of the Lassen County Fair


Hello. All right, so in the studio we have Kaitlyn Downing. She is the County Fair Manager, and she's been there for the last three years, and she has grown the attendance, along with revenues, making the Fair one of the largest gatherings in the country previously. And I did not know this, but Kaitlyn was a senior wildlife trainer at the San Diego Zoo. Yes. Kind of an interesting little PSA. Yeah. I did not know that. What animals did you train?

I trained all of the animals that went out and met the public. And we also took them to new stations, children's hospitals, Hollywood studios all over the place. Wow. What if we were just introducing people to wildlife.

Fun gig that. What a fun gig. And then you gave that up because Susanville is just much better than that, right? Yes. All right.

It's a different kind of animal, right?


Well put. We also have Perry Thompson. He's a second-generation president of Hat Creek Construction, builder of many of our public roads, and operator of three local quarries that supply rock, concrete, and asphalt for local construction projects. Hat Creek is a big supporter of the youth sports on this station, as well as youth livestock auctions. And we welcome you both to the show. How are you doing?

Thanks for having me, Erin. Great to see you.

Thank you for coming in. So Kaitlyn, I'm going to throw it back. Throw it to you first because you're our Fair Manager. So I just have to ask. Tell us about this year's Fair. How good this year was.

Yeah, this Fair was super successful. We were able to continue to grow the Fair. We saw an increase in attendance with over 31,000 people coming through the Fair this year. So it's definitely the largest event in Lassen County. So we broke quite a few records with attendance, but we also broke a record with our junior livestock auction. We did over $440,000 in sales.

And I would I liked about the Fair is that you had vendors. You just had so many vendors for so many options. I mean, you've had some I mean, they were like from Southern California down there, and they came all the way up here and they had some I'm a pastry kind of guy. I have a sweet tooth. And so I, I bought up a lot of their stock.

Yes. We had great vendors that came from all over. And with the continued growth of the Lassen County Fair, we've been able to increase our entertainment. We've brought in new community sponsors, and we're able to do that with the support from the community, but also local businesses like Hat Creek Construction, who's one of our like you mentioned, Erin, biggest sponsors for the Fair, not just for the Fair itself, but for the youth at the Fairgrounds. And he continues to sponsor us throughout our events that we're able to grow. So we've been developing new events outside of the Fairgrounds as well. And it's all things to the community and our community partners that we have.

I agree. So with that, Perry, so you've been a sponsor of the Fair. Why the Fair? Why is the Fair means so much to you?

Oh, geez, that's a great question, Erin. I say it starts with probably bringing the community and families together. You know, it's just a great opportunity to get together and get away from work. Some of the people that I love in this community, I see once a year at the Fair and look forward to it every year, you know? And as a kid, I remember being excited about going to the Fair. I took animals the whole time that, you know, from growing up, my very first animals, a pig. And then I took steers all the way through my, you know, through for 4H and FFA until I graduated from high school. Huge. I was blown away by the support that the community gave us as kids, you know, and just coming and it's a great opportunity for kids to become entrepreneurs, you know, and keep track of what their costs are to feed the animal. And, and, you know, buy the animal, take care of the animal. And then at the end of the day, they get a check. And it's usually a pretty significant check if they've done a good job and done their work. And we just want to support anything that does that, you know, teamwork, responsibility, entrepreneurship or big, big supporters of that. We've been buying animals at Fairs for over 50 years. And it's just something that's people did it for me, and it's just an awesome way for us to give back in some little way.

And it also teaches these these youth. It teaches them a good work ethic. Absolutely. And I probably I think our parents are saying about our generation, but I'm saying it by our next. I'm like, I'm kind of worried because their work ethic. But around here we have good work ethic because yes, there's a lot of that participation. Absolutely.

You know, I think the shining stars of the future for, for this country and certainly for this community can be wrapped up right in the 4H and FFA kids and youth sports, too. I mean, there's a lot of a lot of things that come from that. But we're talking about the Fair today and I'm most excited about the four. It's the FFA kids that are coming out of these programs are just incredible.

Okay, so tell us a little bit about that. I mean, because you've worked with 4H. Do you hire 4H. Yeah. Youth.

Yeah. Great question. Yeah. So we have hired countless 4H and FFA kids in the communities that we work in. And it's probably one of the primary things we look for. You know, it's that responsibility, that ownership mentality and not a victim mentality that so many people have. Right. Is yeah, right. And so they're taking ownership and responsibility for something that's that's important. It's important to it's important to them. At the end of the day, they know if they do a good job and they take care of it, they're going to be rewarded properly. And that's what the whole American dream is about. And I just love that we're instilling that in youth and just excited to be part of it in some small way.

Okay. Now yeah.

Go ahead. Team is a really, truly amazing. You can tell with any projects that they participate in that they have that family mentality. And I think it stems from like he had said, looking at that background. And there are so many great kids like he had mentioned that come up through the 4H and FFA program. So I know if you're considering about signing your kids up for it now, four H is running their signups, so I just wanted to plug that in. If you're curious about it, you can always give the Fair office a call, and we can direct you to where you can get your kids involved, and they don't have to take an animal to the Fair. That's just one one way to get involved in 4H.

Okay, well, and Perry touched on it and I kind of touched on it. What are your opinions on how 4H benefits our community?

I mean they and.

FFA we got to include FFA too. Absolutely. Yes.

Yeah definitely. So we see them involved in quite a few things. I mean they show up to the Fairgrounds to do a pre-Fair cleanup every year. There are a lot involved in a lot of community service and fundraising. So any time you need a helping hand, they're ready and willing to help serve the community. So I know they put in a lot of time and effort, not just to the kids that show their animals at the Fairgrounds, but they give back to the community. So it's it teaches them quite like Perry was saying, responsibility and ownership and getting involved in the community.

Right. And you not only sponsor the Fair and the youth, you're a big supporter of sports, youth sports as well.

Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, I played sports and you know that. Can you be part of something larger than yourself? Right. So can you play a role on a team. And you know, in life your life isn't always Fair. And you've got to figure out a way to carve out your niche in this world. And I think it really starts with it really starts with being involved in these youth programs that our community is just blessed to have. I mean, we've got great sports programs here. We've got it starts really, really young. You can get kids involved, get them off of the iPads and off of the screens. And there isn't you know, there's still that's an important component of learning. You know how it goes. But at the same time, I think I love that we're getting kids outside and involved and, and being actionable with their lives.

Right, right. And so excuse me, Kaitlyn, it's not just FFA, it's not just for age, but you also have but a lot of I'm assuming a lot of those youth are involved with that are also part of your junior Fair board.

Yeah. They we do have kids that are involved in the junior Fair board that do show animals at the Fair, but we also have some kids that choose not to show animals, but they still want to be involved and give back to the community. So they join our junior Fair board and they are hands-on throughout the whole Fair. They have their own schedule and tasks, so they're very independent and super helpful to the success of the Fairgrounds.

Awesome. And how does someone get involved with it with the Junior Fair Board.

So we have it's a pretty basic application. It's on our website. You do have to be in high school, but it does continue one year out of high school. If you are attending LTC and in your first year, you can sign up for the Junior Fair board. But it teaches you a lot of different skills. Public speaking, I know I had some of the Junior Fair board members in the studio last week, as well as responsibilities, so they do get assigned pretty vital tasks during the Fair that we count on them to complete. And it's pretty hands-on and involved, and it teaches them a lot of life skills before they get sent out into the world. So we super appreciate them. But just fill out an application and bring it to the Fair office.

Okay, now, Perry, this means so much to you, not you just don't just sponsor Lassen County Fair. You sponsor others, correct?

Yeah, yeah. We're it's one of our largest charitable giving things that we do. And again, it's investing in youth, but we do the Plymouth Fair and Quincy Alturas Intermountain Fair McArthur. Shasta District Fair in Redding, the district Fair in Red Bluff. You know obviously the the largest giving we do is here in Susanville and then at the Intermountain Fair. That's kind of where our primary workforce is. And it's also where that community is supporting us the most, too. So we do prioritize that. But we believe that you've got to you you've got to step up and support the youth. And they're the future. That's what it's all about. Right?

I agree, and I appreciate your stance on that. We're kind of coming to the end. Is there anything you guys would like to add before we let you go?

Well, I'm just going to say one thing that Kaitlyn’s team just does an awesome job. This is I think this is one of the most well-run fairs that we've been involved with. And not many fairs can say they're growing and thriving. And Kaitlyn can say that. And it's because her team is so good, and they execute. They don't waste the dollars that are generously given by this community to help grow the thing. And they execute. And I'm just really proud to be a small part of it.

All right.

Kaitlyn oh yeah. And I just want to say that we are super thankful for Perry and his team at Hat Creek Construction. Whether we have a new event coming up that needs a little extra support or a project on grounds, him and his team are always happy to come by and give us their honest opinion and feedback, and are willing to support whatever it has, especially for the youth activities in the community. So they're amazing sponsors. We're super fortunate to have them in our community, and it lets us put back into the Fairgrounds. Just like Hat Creek is able to put back into their local community. So they're really about keeping things local and wanting to see the communities they live and grow and thrive.

Okay. Well, thank you both, and we appreciate you. Thank you, Erin, for all the hard work that you guys put into our community. We appreciate it.

Thank you.

You're welcome. All right. We'll be right back.

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