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Fair boards shouldn’t be kept from money from the state’s Fair Fund

Sen. Michele Brooks, R-Erie/Crawford/Mercer/Warren, is pictured speaking to farmers at the 104th Annual Farm Show in Harrisburg.

Fair boards that canceled their 2020 events shouldn’t be kept from money they would typically receive from the state’s Fair Fund.

State Sen. Michele Brooks, R-Erie/Crawford/Mercer/Warren, has introduced legislation in April to establish the COVID-19 Emergency Agricultural Fair Grant Program. Money from the emergency grant program would be used to make sure county agricultural societies and independent agricultural societies whose fair was cancelled in 2020 receive the same amount of money as they typically receive from the PA Fair Fund. The program would include capital grants. Societies whose fairs were held this year would not be eligible.

Senate Bill 1182 was approved by the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee in June, according to a news release.

“Many of these hometown fairs rely on this revenue to help fund local nonprofits and volunteer fire departments, and their budgets cannot afford to be further strained,” Brooks wrote in her legislative memorandum. “Many of these entities have had to cancel their fundraisers, which normally are used to purchase equipment and supplies that are critical to the services they offer.”

The Warren County Fair Board of Directors canceled what would have been the 90th annual Warren County Fair this year. In addition to health and safety concerns, board members said there was too much uncertainty regarding gathering restrictions, livestock and concessions participation, logistics with carnival partners, entertainment participation, volunteer groups participation and the strain on the local economy. The fair typically brings more than 50,000 people to Pittsfield each year.

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