Wednesday, February 1, 2017

County Fairs Eligible for State Money for Fair Improvements


A total of $5 million is being awarded to county and youth fairs across the state through the Agricultural Fairgrounds Infrastructure Improvement Program. 

Fifty-six local fairs can receive more than $89,000 to offset the cost of improvement and renovation projects, including new construction. This is the first time in nearly a decade that the state’s more than four dozen local fairs will receive critical infrastructure improvement funds.

“These fairs are a part of New York’s rich tradition and help showcase the pride and heritage of communities in every corner of this great state,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “These investments will help these fairs attract more visitors, raise the profile of local vendors and businesses, and help spur economic growth across New York.”

The $5 million has been divided equally among the state’s local fairs. Each fair will be eligible for an award of $89,285. To receive the funding, fairs must submit the scope of work and estimated budget for proposed projects.

Projects must be submitted to the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, which is administering the program.  The funding can be used to build, repair, replace, acquire or install fairground buildings, facilities or equipment that are used to house or promote agriculture. 

The department will contact local fairs with instructions on how to submit projects for proposals in the coming weeks. 

Once projects are approved, a contract will be developed and completed through the state Grants Gateway. Projects must be finished and the awarded funds must be spent by March 31, 2021. 
Any money remaining after that date will be divided equally among the awardees who can then submit plans for additional projects.

“For years, many of the state’s local fairs struggled to make the necessary improvements to stay up-to-date and attractive to visitors,” said Agriclture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball. “This funding will help mitigate those challenges and provide better opportunities to spotlight the state’s diverse and exceptional agricultural community.”

 “Our state’s local fairs are more than just places to go to be entertained, they also provide opportunities for people to learn about the importance of agriculture through everything from seeing farm animals firsthand to enjoying local foods,” said state Sen. Patty Ritchie, R-Oswegatchie, chair of the Senate agriculture committee. “By providing local fairs with these resources, we are better positioning them to increase attendance, highlight New York’s leading industry and boost the economies in the regions where they are located.”

 “New York state’s county and local youth fairs are a showcase for local agriculture; they provide family fun and entertainment and positive development opportunities for youth through participation and competition, while boosting the local economy,” said Assemblyman William Magee, D-Nelson, chair of the Assembly agriculture committee. “This well-deserved and much needed funding will go a long way toward maintaining and improving the critical infrastructure of our local fairs.”

“Our local county fairs have been tradition for generations of families. Mom and dad bring their kids to enjoy the fair as their mom and dad brought them years before,” said Gary Newkirk, president of the New York State Association of Agricultural Fairs. “Most of the fairs in New York have been around for over 100 years, several over 175 years.  Unfortunately, with that comes aged infrastructure. This money will be like a breath of fresh air to allow our fairs to keep up this great tradition, continue to provide great entertainment, build family memories and provide an economic impact to local communities.”

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