CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The state’s fairs and festivals are getting fair warning. More cuts to their budgets could be on the way.

This budget year the state cut funding to most agencies by 7.5 percent. That trickled down to fairs and festivals. The governor’s office is asking for an additional 7.5-percent in cuts for 2014-2015. It’s all about balancing the budget.

Ruth Taylor, the president of the West Virginia Association of Fairs and Festivals, said those cuts hurt.

“Some [festival organizers] say they’re having a struggle having enough funding to keep operating,” Taylor said.

She knows firsthand. That’s because Taylor is the director of the Little Levels Heritage Fair that celebrates the life of West Virginia native Pearl S. Buck each June.

Taylor said most festivals, like she does, will use the state funding to pay for insurance for the event, which can be very expensive. With less and less state money coming in festival directors are having to get creative when it comes to coming up with cash to keep fairs afloat.

“You either look in the community [for funding]. You raise fees. You cut back on activities. You cut back on prize money,” according to Taylor.

That prize money often goes to local students for college scholarships or to volunteer fire departments and other non-profit agencies. Taylor said local businesses take a hit as well. Fewer activities can mean fewer visitors. Some businesses rely on that extra income.

“When you start having to cut the money on this and that it trickles down a long way,” said Taylor.

The only positive note is the fact that the association got an early heads up as to what might happen.

“Knowing in advance that this action might be coming is more to our benefit,” said Taylor.

She said fairs and festivals have nearly a full year to come up with extra financing to keep their events going.

bubble graphic

4

bubble graphic

Comments

  • Joe

    Let's not also forget the embezzlement of public funds from the Charleston FestivALL that went on for years.

  • CaptainQ

    Well, I have to applaud these cuts since all of these fairs/festivals can make up the lost taxpayer funding with private sector sponsorship or donations. Why should our tax dollars from Charleston help underwrite them? Some of these events generate a LOT of revenue on their own.

    Funding all of these is just a luxury this state can no longer (apparently) afford.

    • Joe

      +1

  • Habib Haddad

    Looks like the patrons will have to pony up statewide to keep these events going. This is the new normal now that PA, OH and MD have gambling up and running.