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Unsure of state funding, county fairs cut back

August 11, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- The Franklin and Fulton county fairs start Sunday, yet organizers still don't know what, if any, funding they'll receive from the state this year.

"We're really in limbo," said Robert H. Eckstine, president of the Franklin County Fair's board of directors.

"They had already cut the state funding by 50 percent and then 25 percent again," said Don DeShong, who serves on the Fulton County Fair's board of directors. "We're not sure we're going to get anything."

Eckstine said the uncertainty comes from the Pennsylvania budget stalemate. State leaders missed their June 30 budget deadline, then passed a stopgap measure to pay government workers.

Franklin County legislators say no reasonable estimate exists for when a full budget might be complete.

"It's made it very difficult," Eckstine said. "I know some fairs across the state of Pennsylvania have shut down completely."

The Fulton County Fair won't pay premiums for livestock exhibitors this year, DeShong said. The state reimbursed the fair for those payouts, he said.

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Franklin County Fair officials haven't made decisions about premiums, Eckstine said.

At the end of the fair each year, expenses, attendance and premium amounts are submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Eckstine said. The 2008 reimbursement was $23,000, he said.

Fair officials in the two counties are cutting costs where they can, although they've held the line on or lowered ticket prices in a nod to families' financial struggles.

"We've cut drastically on the money we spend on midway entertainment," Eckstine said.

"Every place we can cut, we've cut. We don't have any choice," said DeShong, who also said the fair hasn't been advertised this year.

DeShong said he hopes recently recalled jobs at JLG Industries in McConnellsburg, Pa., will translate into more money for Fulton County residents to spend despite the county's high unemployment rate.

County Fair information



Franklin County Fair

Aug. 16 to 22

3725 Warm Spring Road

Chambersburg, Pa.

www.franklincountyfair.org

Fulton County Fair

Aug. 16 to 22

888 Lincoln Way East

McConnellsburg, Pa.

www.fultoncountyfairassociation.com

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