Commissioners OK interim funding for fair


March 17, 2022

Wahkiakum County commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to provide interim funding for the Wahkiakum County Fair.

The fair's account has a little over $400 in it, said county Treasurer Tammy Peterson, and that's not enough to cover current billing.

Fair officials were present at the commission's March 8 meeting to present a request for funding to cover expenses until they receive their state appropriation. Commissioners asked Auditor Nicci Bergseng and Treasurer Tammy Peterson to meet with fair officials, analyze the situation and make a recommendation.

Peterson brought that recommendation to the commission this week; the officials recommended a transfer of $5,000 from the Current Expense fund to cover expenses for February and March.

The fair has $411.46 in its account, and with payroll and outstanding bills, they would be in arrears $3,189.79, Bergseng reported. The $5,000 funding would carry the fair into April when they expect to receive state funding.

After discussion, Commissioners Gene Strong, Dan Cothren and Lee Tischer voted unanimously to make the transfer.

Cothren, however, repeated the concern he expressed last week that the county can't be expected to bail the fair out of financial difficulties in the future (the fair is operated by a non-profit association; the fair grounds are county property).

Cothren said county revenue may be curtailed in the future because of a lack of support from the legislature, and officials will have to prioritize spending. The fair, he said, isn't a required service.

"We've got a limited amount of money coming in," he said. "We've got to weigh our priorities."

The fair has successfully conducted fund raising activities to bolster its budget, said Fair Manager Patty Dursteller and Fair Board Member Kay Walters. Activities rante from rummage sales and horse shows to making facilities available last year as a center from people forced from their residences because of wildfires.

Activities were curtailed the past two years in response to the covid-19 pandemic, she said, which has resulted in the revenue shortfall.

"We would not be here fi not for covid," she said. "The fair has been here for 114 years; it's been very important to a lot of people."

After the vote, Commissioner Tischer commented that the fair and fairgrounds are used by 4-H youth programs and other organizations that make the county an attractive place to live.

"We have to factor in that," he said.


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