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 the 2018 fair season officially gets underway in New York this weekend. Funding provided through Round 3 of the Agricultural Fairgrounds Infrastructure Improvement Program will be divided equally among the State's 52 eligible local fairs, with each receiving an award of $96,153 to offset the cost of improvements and renovation projects that support New York's agricultural industry. A total of $15 million has been dedicated to revitalizing county fairs since 2016.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “I thank Governor Cuomo and the Legislature for their commitment to reinvigorating our local fairs and ensuring their core mission remains the promotion of agriculture. With each fair receiving nearly $100,000 again this year, we can make meaningful improvements that will attract new visitors and ensure our county fairs remain a community tradition. I look forward to visiting our fairs this summer and seeing the progress across the State.”
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. This year, project eligibility has also been expanded to include the repair or replacement of water systems, restrooms, and storm water management systems on the fairgrounds. To receive the funding, 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.
The Department will be contacting eligible fairs with additional details on the Agricultural Fairgrounds Infrastructure Improvement Program in the coming weeks. A list of eligible local fairs across New York State can be found at the bottom of this page.
More than three dozen local fair improvement projects awarded in the first two rounds of the program have been completed or are getting underway. Examples of projects include:
Chautauqua County Fair - Project includes new electrical services to four barns and the livestock show arena. New floors will be installed for the rabbit/poultry barns and a new small animal show arena will be constructed. Old wooden bleachers will be replaced in the livestock show arena with new aluminum bleachers for safer seating.
Niagara County Fair – Project includes a new building for 4-H youth activities at the Fair as well as space to promote the local agricultural industry.
Cobleskill Sunshine Fair – Project includes improvements to the Cobleskill Dairy Barn, replacement of the existing foundation piers, floor structure, roof repairs, and the upgrade of the building electrical service to provide sufficient power for milking equipment, pumps and fans.
Steuben County Fair – Project includes the installation of a concrete floor in the cattle and poultry barns, new lighting in the animal barns, and the purchase of new goat pens. The roof will also be replaced in the 4-H exhibit hall.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Senator Patty Ritchie said, “In communities across New York State, county fairs are more than just a summertime tradition--they're also an important part of promoting our state’s agriculture industry. In Jefferson, Oswego and St. Lawrence Counties, fairs not only attract thousands of visitors, but have been doing so for more than 160 years. I am proud to have advocated for this funding and look forward to seeing how it helps our local fairs continue to highlight New York State agriculture, attract more visitors, boost local economies and of course, provide family fun for many years to come.”
Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Bill Magee said, “I am grateful that this well-deserved and much needed funding will go a long way toward revitalizing the critical infrastructure of our local fairgrounds. County and local fairs showcase our New York agriculture products while offering opportunities through participation and competition for youth, providing family fun and entertainment while boosting the local economy.”
Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner said, “County fairs are an integral part of life in Upstate New York. I am pleased that this year’s budget provided needed funding to ensure our county fairgrounds are welcoming places for the many visitors who enjoy all that county fairs have to offer.”
New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher said, “New York Farm Bureau values the importance of our great county fairs all across the state. They are often the first exposure for visitors to learn about agriculture, and they provide opportunities for our young people to be involved in 4H projects and animal judging competitions that teach important life skills, on and off the farm. The grant program is an investment in our strong agricultural heritage.”
Scott Christian, President, New York State Association of Agricultural Fairs, said, “The county fairs in New York appreciate these funds, which will help to improve the overall experience for our guests at the fairs as we continue to support our mission of providing a showcase for New York agriculture.”
More than 50 county and youth fairs operate 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. A complete list of county and youth fairs 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 22 through September 3, 2018.