Clallam County Fair manager Shari Ioffrida looks over a map of the fairgrounds in Port Angeles on Wednesday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Clallam County Fair manager Shari Ioffrida looks over a map of the fairgrounds in Port Angeles on Wednesday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

County fairs fight for funds

PORT TOWNSEND —The state operating budget proposed by the House of Representatives strips funds from county fairs for the 2018 and 2019 seasons and residents in Jefferson and Clallam counties are fighting back.

“We need to preserve our fairs,” said Sue McIntire, the Jefferson County fair office manager. “It’s part of our heritage.”

While the budget proposed by the House zeros out the budget for local fairs for the next two years, the budget proposed by the Senate funds fairs with $4 million.

That’s roughly what fairs received in the last budget, with money dispersed to counties across the state. In 2015-17, Clallam County received $44,208 and Jefferson County got $35,762.

Negotiations are in progress to finalize a state Legislature budget.

It is likely the fair budget will be restored, thinks state Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, a Democrat from Sequim who represents Legislative District 24 along with Rep. Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles, and Rep. Steve Tharinger, D- Sequim. District 24 covers Clallam and Jefferson counties and part of Grays Harbor County.

“Fair funding in past years that hasn’t been in one of the budgets has been restored,” Van De Wege said. “I support the fair funding and I know, particularly in Jefferson County this would be hard hit.”

Van De Wege said that fairs “have historically received a small percentage of the state budget.”

Chapman said his office has received more calls than usual from constituents concerned about their local fairs.

An amendment to the House budget was proposed to restore the funding for local fairs, but failed. Chapman said he was the only House Democrat who voted for that amendment. Tharinger could not be reached for comment.

Chapman said he has spoken with Van De Wege and Tharinger and all three are in support of restoring funding for local fairs.

“These are the kind of issues where the dollar amount is very small but it’s a big deal in these rural counties,” Chapman said.

“There’s still hope,” McIntire said. “We need to contact our representatives and tell them how important fairs are to our community.”

The fair budget is reviewed as part of the state budget every two year and, according to McIntire, it’s always a stressful time.

“We go through this every two years,”McIntire said. “This year we’ll still be funded, but we’d just have to start cutting back so we can have funds for next year and the year after that.”

Some of those cutbacks would come from the premiums paid out for competitions during the fair, according to Shari Ioffrida, Clallam County Fair manager.

“We’d have to make cutbacks so a lot of it could come from premium money that we pay out, so prize money,” Ioffrida said. “A huge amount to that goes out to kids, like the 4-H competitors.”

Chapman said: “It looking good for restoring that funding in the final budget.

“County fairs touch a lot of people. It’s a small thing but it’s important to rural Washington.”

The Legislature generally votes on the operating budget in April or May and the new budget would go into effect July 1.

________

Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

Caption: Bill and Sue McIntire stand in front of a row of buildings used to house animals and vendors during the Jefferson County Fair. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Caption: Bill and Sue McIntire stand in front of a row of buildings used to house animals and vendors during the Jefferson County Fair. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

County fairs fight for funds

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