County fairs to get state funding

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 27, 2021

Local organizers say event will be back to ‘100 percent’

ROME TOWNSHIP — Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law a bill last week, allocating $4.7 million in grant funding from the Ohio Department of Agriculture to all 94 county and independent fairs in the state.

Each agricultural society will receive $50,000 to be used on their operating expenses, projects or any other items related directly to the fair.

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Here in Lawrence County, the news was greeted enthusiastically by the fair board, who are gearing up for a full return of the event just over a month away.

“We’re really tickled,” Chris Collier, vice president of the board, said of the news.

He said the funds, similar to what was made available last year, will help with maintaining facilities and will not require matching funds.

“It’s pure money,” he said.

Last year, DeWine made funding available to offset loss of revenue from grandstand events, which could not be held, due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

However, the announcement came too late to keep Lawrence County’s event, one of the earliest in the state, open and the board had to cancel the 2020 fair. An independent event, the Lawrence County Livestock Show, occurred in its place.

This year, Collier said the fair is in good financial shape, due to the decision to cancel last year rather than take a loss and they are finalizing plans for the event, set to kick off Saturday, July 10.

“We’re going to be 100 percent,” Collier said, noting that with all health orders in Ohio set to be lifted on June 2, they will be able to host grandstand events at full capacity.

He said they have a schedule already booked.

“We’ll have three derbies, a rodeo, monster trucks,” he said of some the attractions. “And indoor and outdoor vendors and rides.”

“It was hard,” he said of last year’s decision to cancel. “But most people were receptive to it.”

He said he expects a strong turnout this year and they have already heard from many vendors.

“Everyone is ready to go,” he said.