California Fairgrounds vow to fight for infrastructure funding

By Western Fairs Association

California’s network of fairgrounds and key lawmakers vowed to continue pushing for infrastructure funding despite being left out of this year’s budget, according to Western Fairs Association (WFA).

Despite strong support from a bipartisan coalition of 32 state senators and assembly members, a budget passed Sunday omitted funding requested by fairs to repair severely neglected infrastructure at the state-owned network of 76 fairgrounds located in every California county.

“There is broad recognition that fairgrounds represent a critical state and community asset that is in dire need of funding,” said Sandy Woods, CEO of the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley and Chair of the California Fairs Alliance.

“We are encouraged that our lawmakers are receptive to finding a long-term funding plan once we provide additional data and more specific information about our infrastructure needs.”

More than 30 million people will visit a California fairground sometime during 2014, fair officials said — and not just at fair time. Fairgrounds drive local economies and provide a venue for a wide range of activities and essential services, especially during natural disasters when they serve as evacuation centers for residents and staging areas for emergency workers.

Throughout the 2013-14 legislative session, key lawmakers have voiced support for fairground funding and pledged to continue efforts to garner critical funding for infrastructure projects.

“We continue to receive assurances and commitment from our policy makers,” said Woods. “We remain encouraged that the legislature and governor will ultimately make it a priority to reinvest in the crumbling infrastructure at fairgrounds statewide.”

In the past several years, crucial state funding to support fairgrounds was slashed and eliminated to help address the state budget shortfalls.

“We have done our part to get California back on its feet,” Woods said. “But this has crippled some of our fairgrounds, which are in dire need of funding to repair essential infrastructure. With many fairgrounds on life support, we need to find a solution as soon as possible in order to preserve these essential state assets.”

Californians interested in finding out about the fairgrounds in their communities can learn more at the WFA Western Fairs website.

(Painting: Katie Wolf)

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