Fair board appeals to commissioners
At Tuesday's meeting of the Putnam County Commissioners, members of the Putnam County 4-H Fair Board asked for money to be put back into the county budget for the annual 4-H fair.
"There are over 1,000 kids involved in 4-H and it is an important event for the county," Fair Board member Gene Grable told the commissioners.
The county council and commissioners had to make budget cuts three years ago that eliminated not only 4-H from the county budget, but also groups such as the senior center and the humane society. Up until that time they received between $35,000 and $40,000 per year.
The county fairground is used for numerous events besides the fair.
"It's used for election day, Tox-Away Day, horse shows, weddings and lots of events," said Jackie Baumann, food and nutrition educator for the extension office.
Currently the board has to borrow money to carry them through the year.
The group talked about some of the expenses including insurance, utilities, judges and ribbons.
"We've cut everywhere we can find," Grable said. "We used to pay judges $8,000 or $9,000. We only paid $4,500 last year. People don't realize how expensive judges can be."
The board also cut the expense for ribbons from $9,000 to about $5,000.
Other expenses included $18,000 for insurance and $23,500 for utilities and $7,100 for premiums to 4-Hers.
"It looks like we'll have to discontinue premiums for the next year. We just don't have the money," said Grable.
The group was able to get a sponsor for the premiums two years ago, but that was only a one-year deal.
A number of ideas were tossed around to raise revenues, including camping for the Covered Bridge Festival in October and other events allowing motor homes and campers on the grounds.
The fairground's electric and septic systems are not strong enough to support any heavy overnight traffic and costs to upgrade the systems would be over $30,000.
"We've also asked the Visitor and Convention Center to help us recruit events that could be held at the fairgrounds. We're looking for anything that can help us," said Grable.
Commissioner Gene Beck told the group the county council was in charge of taking away the 4-H funding and that they would have to go before the council to ask for additional funds.