COUNTY FAIR MAY LOSE STATE FUNDING

January 19, 2001 11:00 pm

GOLD BEACH Without state funding, 60-70 percent of county fairs in Oregon would cease to exist, said Curry County Fair Manager Ron Crook.

Crook recently returned from the Oregon Fairs Association convention in Jantzen Beach.

He reported to the Curry County Fair Board Tuesday night that fairgrounds in this state have never been in bigger jeopardy for state funds.

Few fairs will keep going, said Crook. He said some of the fairgrounds in larger counties will get by on lodging tax funds.

He said its ironic that rural counties are supposed to be a big priority for the governor, yet his budget may cut funds to fairs, which are main events in rural counties.

If we lose our $41,000, said Crook, this fairground will not be open year round.

To counter the cuts, the fairs association is pushing House Bill 2047 in the Oregon legislature. It would set up a fund that fairs could tap into in lean years.

Crook said Rep. Wayne Krieger, R-Gold Beach, is on the committee which will first look at the bill at the end of the month.

Crook suggested all users of the fairground contact their legislators and support the bill.

He said he is also pressing the county commissioners to use some of the increased federal timber payments for fairground maintenance, but he said that will take a vote of the entire budget committee this year.

Crook is planning a workshop with the fair board and Commissioner Marlyn Schafer to look at the funding problem. He has also put several fairground projects on the countys needs and issues inventory for state and federal funding.

He said applications for funding for a bridge for the back road over Riley Creek, and improvements to Docia Sweet Hall, will be submitted in February.

Crook said while the Curry County Fair might be underfunded, it ranked high with one of the groups at the fair convention.

He said one of the most interesting presentations was by a group that attended every fair in Oregon last summer. Both of the fairs Crook manages made their top-10 list.

I was really pleased to see both the Coos and Curry County fairs on that list, he said.

At 28 years, Crook had been managing fairs longer than anyone else who attended the fair convention.