Fair board still short – youth get pay cutPublished 9:28am Thursday, September 10, 2009
BERRIEN SPRINGS – The Berrien County Youth Fair Board of Directors has announced that youth premiums for the 2009 fair will be paid, but only 50 percent of the published amounts.
The fair announced in June that the Michigan Department of Agriculture had eliminated the fair’s annual premium grant. With this budget cut by Governor Jennifer Granholm’s office and the state legislature, grants for premiums to county fairs have been eliminated for 2009 and 2010.
For the Berrien County Youth Fair, this results in an over $31,000 loss of funds for each of the two years.
In an effort to raise premium money for youth fair exhibitors, the Berrien County Youth Fair Board of Directors held a Fish Fry fundraiser in July and also received personal and business donations, totaling approximately $8,000, which still left a large portion of the premium fund in a deficit.
“Everything was down this year, including gate admission, concessions, and rides, due to the poor weather fair week. This really hurt us,” said Fair Manager Chris Carlin.
Carlin reported that gate admission was down by 9 percent. The Board discussed several options regarding premiums, he added, but didn’t want to cut them out completely, so paying the youth 50 percent of their premiums was the best solution.
Exhibitors also receive ribbons and trophies, which have already been awarded.
“We want to reward our exhibitors but we also feel that we need to maintain our Fair so it is here for them in the future.” said Susan Coulston, Berrien County Youth Fair Board member and treasurer.
“The Board felt paying 50 percent of the premiums was the best option overall, which is using all the monies raised specifically for this purpose, plus a little more than our normal allocation,” she added.
State money had been used specifically to fund what the BCYF pays out in premiums to its youth exhibitors each year. Exhibitors receive small cash premiums for the awards that they receive on their exhibits, which range on average from $.25 up to $8.00 per class.
In 2008, the fair paid out over $42,000 in premiums to 2,400 youth exhibitors. The state grant funded almost 75 percent of this payout.
This year the fair had 2,647 exhibitors between the ages of 5 and 20 displaying 14,563 exhibits in approximately 3,000 classes.
Attendance totals at the fair were as follows:
The BCYF exhibitor handbook states that the fair reserves the right to pro-rate premiums if funding is not received from the State of Michigan or if fair receipts are insufficient to pay expenses.