Fairs to receive more pandemic relief

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amusement rides and games with lights at a fair at night.

Ohio fairs are getting another $50,000 to help with operating expenses and other projects this year, following a challenging 2020 season.

Gov. Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 109 into law May 17, providing the Ohio Department of Agriculture $4.7 million in grant funding for pandemic relief. The department will be distributing those funds to Ohio’s 94 county and independent agricultural societies.

Agricultural societies were hit hard by the pandemic in 2020, losing income on both fairs and off season rentals. Last year, all fairs that held junior fairs received $50,000 in state funding to help them operate safely. Those that canceled completely received $15,000.

This year, fair leaders have been cautiously optimistic, but are still dealing with the repercussions of the 2020 season. In March 9 testimony to the Senate Finance committee, Tom Stocksdale, of Wooster, Ohio, a district director on the Ohio Fair Managers Association’s board of directors, said many local fairs are “hanging on by a financial thread.”

“It is my hope that this funding can help breathe new life into our fairs as they move toward a successful 2021 seasons,” said Dorothy Pelanda, director of the department of agriculture, in a May 17 statement.

The funding comes with no application, reporting or project close out requirements, and fairs are expected to receive funding within the next four weeks, the department said.

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