The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets today announced $5 million is being awarded to county and youth fairs across the State as part of Round 4 of the Agricultural Fairgrounds Infrastructure Improvement Program. The program, funded through the New York State Budget, provides eligible local fairs with nearly $100,000 to help with agriculture-related improvements and renovation projects. A total of $20 million has been dedicated to revitalizing county fairs since 2016.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Our county and local fairs provide a great community gathering space and an opportunity for fairgoers to directly connect with our farmers and producers to learn about agriculture. This infusion of funding for our local fairs is leading to the completion of many important fairground improvement projects across the state, which is helping our fairs to remain vibrant, better showcase the agricultural industry, and provide a better overall experience for fairgoers.”
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. Last year, project eligibility was expanded to include the repair or replacement of water systems, restrooms, and storm water management systems on the fairgrounds.
More than three dozen local fair improvement projects awarded in the first three rounds of the program have been completed or are getting underway.
Examples of completed projects as well as projects in progress from the previous three rounds of the program include:
- Cattaraugus County Fair (Western NY) – In 2016, the Cattaraugus County Fair built a new horse barn. In 2017, a new livestock ring was built for 4-H animal exhibitors. The livestock rings are now handicap accessible for both the animal exhibitors and fairgoers. In addition, the fair used funds from the program to construct a new roof on the goat bar and purchased a skid steer to clean the barns, supply sawdust, move gates, and more during fair week.
- Livingston County Fair (Finger Lakes) – In 2016, the Livingston County Fair constructed a pavilion to be used to house animals during the fair, and for agricultural education classes and programs. Funding also allowed the fair to invest in a new concrete floor in the pole barn, making the facility safer and increasing its use for additional events. Electrical service was also installed both in the existing pole barn and the new pavilion.
- Madison County Fair (Central NY) – In 2016, the Madison County Fair purchased new milking equipment for the cattle barn, and made critical repairs to the facility, such as putting in walls, setting new posts and footings, and stabilizing the roof. The fair also purchased a tractor/loader to use in the cattle and horse barns during the fair and repaired several horse stalls that had been damaged over the years.
- Broome County Fair (Southern Tier) – In 2016, the Broome County Fair replaced the existing concrete block walls with poured concrete walls and installed a new all-steel roof in the manure storage facility. The fair also invested in and installed a new 400-amp service to the cattle barns. In addition, the Broome County Fair constructed an Agricultural Discovery Center to introduce fairgoers to agriculture and educate them on the process of getting a product from the field to the supermarket shelf.
- Gouverneur & St. Lawrence County Fair (North Country) – Using 2016 funding, the Gouverneur and St. Lawrence County Fair will replace the existing dairy barn with a new pole barn, including lights, electric, proper drainage and asphalt flooring.
- Otsego County Fair (Otsego County) – In 2016, the Otsego County Fair replaced the roof and brought the electric up to code in the Agricultural Antique Building, repaired the barn roofs, replaced the waterlines to the beef barn and Barn 1, repaired the rabbit and chicken barn, built a larger goat barn and repaired and replaced the grandstand floor. In 2017, they replaced the waterlines in the chicken, rabbit and dairy barns, replaced outdated equipment in the milk house, purchased a tractor, and replaced the transformers in the livestock area. In 2018, the fair replaced and updated the waterlines on the fairgrounds, purchased new hydrants and backflow preventers, replaced and updated the stage for the grandstands, replaced the concrete barriers on the track, and purchased new clay for the track surface. In addition, the Otsego County Fair purchased a new commercial grade lawnmower to maintain the grounds, updated wash racks, and installed a new security system and a new WiFi mesh system on the fairgrounds.
- Columbia County Fair (Capital Region) – In 2016, the Columbia County Fair upgraded its Agricultural Administration Building to ensure handicap accessibility compliance, increase energy efficiency, and provide better customer service to fairgoers.
- Dutchess County Fair (Mid-Hudson) – In 2016, the Dutchess County Fair replaced the metal roof on four of the dairy cattle pole barns and purchased galvanized small animal pens to hold sheep, goats and hogs.
To receive the awards, eligible fairs must submit the scope of work and estimated budget for proposed projects to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Once projects are approved by the Department, a contract will be developed and completed through the New York State Grants Gateway. A list of eligible local fairs across New York State can be found here.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Senator Jen Metzger said, “It's so important that we work together to promote small family farms and local food producers in our state, and these grants from the Agricultural Fairgrounds Infrastructure Improvement Program are a wonderful way to showcase the fruit of their labor. I’m eager to see how the funding and renovations will infuse New York’s county and local fairs with the agricultural support that will allow them to thrive.”
Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo said, “County fairs are an important part of the fabric of communities across the state. They’re enjoyed by thousands each summer, helping to showcase New York’s best in agriculture and livestock. This funding will help improve the overall experience of local fairs by supporting needed improvements on their grounds.”
Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner said, “I want to thank Commissioner Ball and the New York state Department of Agriculture and Markets for supporting our fairs. County and local fairs provide a critically important venue for our farm families to connect with consumers and educate fairgoers about the agricultural industry. This additional grant funding will give our local fairs the opportunity to improve, replace, repair or acquire new facilities to improve the overall fair-going experience.”
Nick Pelham, President, New York State Association of Agricultural Fairs, said, “These grant opportunities have made a tremendous impact on the grounds of all the fairs across New York State. We are honored that the legislators and the Department of Agriculture see the value in our local fairs and have made these opportunities available to us.”
More than 50 county and youth fairs operate in New York State from July through early October, with the Long Island Fair closing out the season. Local fairs offer a unique opportunity to learn about local agriculture, including where our food comes from, and how it is grown, harvested and marketed to the public.
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 26 through September 7, 2020.