First-Time County Fairs to Receive Critical Infrastructure Improvement Funds in Nearly a Decade
County Fairs Encouraged to Submit Shovel-Ready Projects this Fall
With county fair season underway, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today encouraged New York’s county fairs to apply for a $5 million Agricultural Fairgrounds Infrastructure Improvement Program this fall. Funding for the program was appropriated in the 2016-17 New York State Budget, and will help offset the cost of improvement and renovation projects, including new construction, at eligible county fairs. This is the first time in nearly a decade that the New York State Budget has included funding for the state’s more than four dozen county fairs.
“Our county fairs are a vibrant part of New York’s culture and history and play an integral role in generating economic activity in communities across the state,” Governor Cuomo said. “By facilitating key infrastructural improvements and renovations at county fairs statewide, this funding will help ensure visitors come back year after year. I encourage fairs to put their best projects forward and apply this fall.”
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, which is administering the grant program, will release detailed eligibility requirements and the application this fall, allowing the county fairs time to prepare project proposals that are shovel-ready and that could be implemented starting next year. Grant funding will not exceed $200,000 and will be awarded on a first-come basis. All county fairs interested in applying for funding are encouraged to register in the Grants Gateway in advance here. If any county fairs need assistance with the Grants Gateway, they can call the Department at 518-457-2195.
Agriculture & Markets Commissioner Richard Ball said, “Every summer, millions of New Yorkers visit their local fairs to experience the family-friendly fun and learn first-hand about our growing agriculture industry so it’s vital we support our fairs’ success. This new grant funding program will allow county fairs across the State to address some of their critical infrastructure needs and bridge the financial gap on construction projects. I thank the Governor and the Legislature for their partnership on this and look forward to seeing some excellent project applications this fall.”
Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Patty Ritchie said, “Across New York State, and especially in the rural regions I represent, county fairs are places that not only offer family-friendly entertainment, but also a great opportunity for people to learn about animals, locally grown and produced foods, and all things agriculture. I was proud to advocate for funding of this important program in the state budget, and look forward to seeing how it helps our county fairs across the state move forward with critical infrastructure upgrades.”
Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Bill Magee said, “New York State’s county 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.”
Senator Kathy Marchione said, “County fairs are beloved summertime traditions across our state. For the first time in almost a decade, our State Budget provided funding that county fairs can access to help offset the cost of improvements, renovations and construction. I advocated for this funding to ensure that county fairs can continue contributing to our economy, keep supporting, strengthening and showcasing our world-class agricultural sector, and carry on in providing summertime fun and entertainment. I am pleased that Governor Cuomo and State Agricultural Commissioner Ball recognize the importance of county fairs and ensuring they can access a new $5 million Agricultural Fairgrounds Infrastructure Improvement Program.”
Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner said, “Our county fairs are agricultural traditions that connect families over generations and showcase all that our agriculture community has to offer. I was proud to help ensure that here in Saratoga and Washington counties, as well as the rest of New York State, local families and tourists alike will have the opportunity to enjoy the fairs for many years to come.”
President of the New York State Association of Agricultural Fairs Andy Imperati said, “We would like to thank Senator Ritchie, Assemblyman Magee the State Legislature and the Governor for their support of this funding program. Many of the fairgrounds across the state are in need of upgrades to their water, electrical and storm water systems, restrooms, animal barns, and other buildings on their facilities. These funds will go a long way towards helping to make those improvements possible. That in turn makes the fairgoer experience a safe and more pleasurable one.”
Members of the Washington County Fair Board of Directors and staff were instrumental in the efforts to secure funding for county fairs across the State.
General Manager of the Washington County Fair Mark St. Jacques said, “All of our New York fairs large and small are finding new and innovative ways to educate not only those associated with agriculture, but the general public as well about the trends in the industry. The Fairs provide an economic impact that brings in people from outside of their area and this supports the local community business.”
President of the Washington County Fair Harry Booth said, “It’s very gratifying to me to know that the county fairs have so much support in the legislature and with the Governor. The support and guidance we received from Senator Pattie Ritchie, Assemblyman Bill Magee, and Senator Cathy Young was invaluable. I want to thank Commissioner Ball and his staff for their support and also New York Farm Bureau staff for their help and support. County Fairs have a long and valued history of providing local people the opportunity to exhibit and display their products. These dollars will help give our fairs the means to continue that great tradition. These dollars will help build and maintain safe and attractive places for fair goers to learn about agriculture in a fun and entertaining way. Regardless of its size and scope, the pride that people have in their fair is universal across the industry. I’m pleased and honored to have a part in helping make that happen.”
Dean Norton, New York Farm Bureau President said, “County fairs across the state are often the first exposure people have to the diverse agricultural community that is important to New York State. The $5 million Agricultural Fairgrounds Infrastructure Improvement Program is a valuable tool for fairs to use to make basic improvements and enhance the fair-going experience.”
More than 50 county and youth fairs will operate from July through early October, closing out the season at the Long Island Fair, September 24 to October 2. County fairs across New York State provide fairgoers with family- friendly fun, great music and wild food, but also 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 listing of county fairs across New York State can be found on the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets’ website, here, or on the state’s open data website.
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, located in Syracuse. The Fair takes place from August 25 through September 5, 2016.
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets’ mission is to foster a competitive food and agriculture industry that benefits producers and consumers alike. The Department, through its various divisions and programs, works to promote the agricultural industry and its world-class products, foster agricultural environmental stewardship and safeguard the State’s food supply to ensure the growth of the industry.
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 its Facebook page and on Twitter.