Commissioners Melissa Lindsay (Morrow County) and Ken Humberston (Clackamas County) testified in the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on General Government in a special hearing on March 25 on county fairs during “Fair Day” at the Capitol.
Commissioner Lindsay kicked off invited testimony highlighting the benefits fairs bring to communities, including bridging the urban-rural divide, educational opportunities for Oregonians of all ages, local economic development, and calling for increased funding for fairs to help with infrastructure and operational needs.
Currently, each of Oregon’s 36 counties receive close to $55,000 in state support annually. Because fairs are so vital to communities, counties often supplement costs through general fund, video lottery and other revenue sources, but still have a need for greater investment.
Commissioner Humberston advocated for a statewide assessment of county fair capital, and a long-term strategy for capital improvement funding for county fairs. As the popularity and use of fairs and fairgrounds increase and serve as the hub of local communities, infrastructure needs to be updated to serve the public’s use of the grounds. Commissioner Humberston also spotlighted the county’s strong investment in fairs, and how fairs strengthen ties to communities, lift up agricultural communities and local businesses, and grow the economy.
To view the full hearing, click here.
Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) took a position in support of increased funding for county fairs, and issued a letter of support issued a letter of support in February. To view the letter, click here.
On March 27, the House Committee on Economic Development will hold a work session on HB 2613, a bill that requires the Oregon Business Development Department to develop a master plan for county fairground capital construction, including five and 10-year capital construction plans. If passed, the bill will move to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means for further consideration.
Contributed by: Megan Chuinard | Public Affairs Associate