ALBANY — Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $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,” Governor Cuomo said. “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 New York 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 by the Department, a contract will be developed and completed through the New York 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.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “For years, many of the State’s local fairs struggled to make the necessary improvements to stay up-to-date and attractive to visitors. This funding will help mitigate those challenges and provide better opportunities to spotlight the State’s diverse and exceptional agricultural community. I thank Governor Cuomo and the Legislature for being great partners and recognizing the value of this grant program. I look forward to seeing how it enhances the local fairs across the State.”
Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Patty Ritchie said, “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. I was pleased to advocate for funding to make these upgrades possible, and am pleased that the Governor and Commissioner have recognized the importance of doing so. 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.”
Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Bill Magee said, “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. This well-deserved and much needed funding will go a long way toward maintaining and improving the critical infrastructure of our local fairs.”
Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner said, “Every year, county fairs bring families and communities together to celebrate agricultural traditions and highlight the offerings of local agriculture. I thank Governor Cuomo, as well as my colleagues in the Assembly and Senate who helped secure this funding, for supporting our county fairs and ensuring that they can continue to enrich our communities for years to come.”
New York State Senator Kathy Marchione said, “Investing in and strengthening New York’s many popular County Fairs will continue promoting these wonderful community events. County Fairs entertain, showcase and celebrate the heritage, hard work and great agricultural products from our hard working family farmers. I thank Governor Cuomo for continuing to make our County Fairs a priority.”
President of the New York State Association of Agricultural Fairs Gary Newkirk said, “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. 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.”
Members of the Washington County Fair Board of Directors and staff were instrumental in the efforts to secure funding for local fairs across the State.
General Manager of the Washington County Fair Mark St. Jacques said, “Our New York county fairs are the perfect way to showcase agriculture in front of the millions of people who attend them each year. This funding will allow for improvements that will help continue the timely traditions of their communities that these fairs offer year after year.”
President of the Washington County Fair Harry Booth said, “This is an exciting time for our county fairs. Many fairs are planning projects that this money will help fund. It’s a great opportunity for them to expand and enhance agricultural awareness in their communities and to continue to educate their fairgoers about the importance of agriculture in their lives. It’s gratifying to know that Governor Cuomo, our Senators and Assembly members are so supportive of the fair industry. We look forward to the positive impact that these dollars will make.”
New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher said, “A county fair is often the first glimpse people have of agriculture in their community. It is a learning opportunity for visitors to better understand what farmers do and the valuable role they play in their rural communities. Because of that, it is important that this state funding address aging infrastructure needs at county fairs across the state to improve the fair going experience for everyone.”
More than 50 county and youth fairs operate from July through early October, with the Long Island Fair closing out the season. Local fairs provide visitors with family- friendly fun, great music and delicious food. They also offer a unique opportunity to learn about local agriculture, including where our food comes from, how it is grown, harvested and marketed to the public.
A list of local fairs awarded across New York State can be found here.
In addition, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets operates the oldest and one of the largest state fairs in the country, The Great New York State Fair in Syracuse. The Fair takes place from August 24 through September 4, 2017.
The Department, through its various divisions and programs, promotes New York agriculture and its high-quality and diverse products, fosters agricultural environmental stewardship, and safeguards the State’s food supply, land and livestock to ensure the viability and growth of New York’s agriculture industries.
The Department operates the Great New York State Fair, and administers the Taste NY initiative, the FreshConnect and new New York State Grown and Certified programs. Follow the Department on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
—NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
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