Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara is joining the New York Farm Bureau and the New York State Association of Agricultural Fairs to push for a “County Fair Capital Improvements Fund” in the budget.
The coalition is proposing a $1 million annual investment in the state budget for a capital projects fund that would be used to upgrade county fairgrounds, encourage private investment and ensure the long-term stability of New York’s county fairs.
New York’s county fairs create thousands of jobs, boost the state’s agriculture industry, generate millions in tax revenue and support local economies. Unfortunately, the fairgrounds used for a majority of these fairs have aging infrastructure and are long overdue for significant upgrades.
“County fairs are a treasured pastime for families across upstate New York and an opportunity for farmers to showcase their work and connect directly with consumers. Investing in our fairgrounds will help them attract new events and fans and strengthen a multi-million dollar industry that is vital to local economies,” said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara.
"County fairs are part of the fabric of agriculture in this state. They educate the public about food and farming, provide unique opportunities for young people to learn, and support rural tourism. Unfortunately, much of the infrastructure is in serious need of modern upgrades,” said New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton. “New York Farm Bureau supports Assemblyman Santabarbara's sponsorship of the "Capital Improvements Fund" and thanks him for making county fairs across New York a priority this legislative session.”
"County fairs offer our young people the unique opportunity to exhibit their livestock, produce and crafts competitively, while simultaneously educating our urban fair patrons of the importance of agriculture to their livelihoods,” said R. Harry Booth, director of public policy of the New York State Association of Agricultural Fairs. “Investing in our fair grounds will help insure that our young people will continue to have this wonderful opportunity for generation to come.”
Sites that host county fairs would compete for these funds on an annual basis, with five to 10 capital project awards made each year. The state awards are expected to generate additional local and private investment in the fairgrounds.
The coalition is also calling for a restoration of “premium funding” for county fairs in the state budget, as this revenue is essential for attracting competitors to county fairs.