The groups say the lack of events due to the coronavirus pandemic has not necessarily halted incurring of expenses as the facilities are called upon for COVID-19 testing and shelters during natural disasters.
“Fairgrounds are funded solely by the revenue that they generate from the annual fairs, and other large-scale events, which are now prohibited due to COVID-19,” said Sarah Cummings, president and CEO of the Western Fairs Association and California Fairs Alliance. “Many fairgrounds are now facing an uncertain future. We need emergency funding in the new package of federal economic relief. Without support, many fairs will close permanently and the communities they serve will suffer.”
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Specifically, the groups are pushing two pieces of legislation introduced by a pair of California Democrats: Rep. Josh Harder’s Protecting Fairs During Coronavirus Act and Rep. Jimmy Panetta’s Agricultural Fairs Rescue Act. Harder’s bill would establish a $5 billion federal grant program to offset COVID-19 revenue losses throughout 2020 and 2021; Panetta’s legislation would provide $500 million for grants to states or state departments of agriculture to support agricultural fairs based on their lost attendance.
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