Fair Cancellations Could Result in Permanent Closures, Sale of Fairgrounds
In response to concerns from county and state fair leaders, Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) is introducing the Protecting Fairs During Coronavirus Act. The bill would create a new emergency grant program to help offset the massive revenue losses our fairs are experiencing because of health care measures taken to combat the Coronavirus Pandemic.
And, of course, all California fairs have a major agricultural component including livestock shows by 4-H and FFA. Many counties will showcase their agricultural bounty as well. The loss of fairs would be devastating for all agricultural participants.
Hundreds of thousands of Californians attend these fairs every year and generate approximately $3.5 billion in annual economic impact. Without action, fair advocates warn that some fairs could close permanently or be forced to sell fairgrounds, permanently damaging these essential portions of our communities.
“We don’t want to lose a single acre of fairgrounds or see a single fair shut down permanently because of this pandemic,” said Rep. Harder. “I went to the Stanislaus County Fair as a kid and even won some blue ribbons along the way – but these fairs are more than family fun – they are also an economic engine and job creators for rural communities. We have to do everything we can to protect them.”
“The Western Fairs Association, the California Fairs Alliance, and our Service Member partners are in strong support of Representative Josh Harder’s efforts to include the fair industry in Congressional legislation to assist during this time of National Emergency,” said Sarah Cummings, President & CEO of the Western Fairs Association. “Fairgrounds are an essential part of the infrastructure necessary for state and local communities to effectively respond in natural disasters and emergencies.
“More importantly, fairgrounds are often the heartbeat of their communities, generating multi-millions of dollars in non-profit and community benefits, promoting agriculture and a quality of life serving as gathering spots, recreation facilities and learning centers. Now is the time to provide emergency funding and preserve the legacy of the state’s Fairgrounds for future generations to come.”
The California State Fair typically takes place during this period every year and generates millions of dollars in economic impact for the Sacramento and Central Valley Regions. In 2019, over 600,000 people attended the California State Fair in Sacramento. Locally, the Stanislaus County Fair boasted a 2019 attendance of over 260,000 resulting in a massive economic impact. In a normal year, all fairs across California preserve over 30,000 jobs, generate $3.5 billion in annual revenue, and contribute $200 million in tax revenue for local and state governments, according to the California Fairs Alliance.
The Protecting Fairs During Coronavirus Act would establish a $5 billion federal grant program to offset fair revenue losses during the Coronavirus Pandemic. The fund would be available for both 2020 as well as 2021. States could apply for aid from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and then distribute the funds to fairs in their state.