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Priorities: Fairs and Festivals funding should not be cut

Many, if not most, of the fairs and festivals that make life in the Mountain State a little more enjoyable are not being held this year. They were victims of COVID-19 and the necessity for social distancing.

Ways will be found to hold some of them, of course, if the danger from COVID-19 recedes. But even those that proceed will be noticeably different from years past.

Scores of special events receive some help from the state, in the form of funding through the Fairs and Festivals budget. It is not included in the big general revenue budget, but rather in a smaller spending plan covered by income from the state Lottery Commission.

None of the special events receives a lot of state money. Spread out over those covered by the Fairs and Festivals budget, the $1,346,814 in the program is enough to provide only a few thousand dollars — sometimes just a few hundred — to each recipient.

But many of the fairs and festivals rely heavily on state assistance. The question arises: Should they receive their normal allocations even if they are not being held this year?

Yes. In the great scheme of budget things, the less than $1.4 million for fairs and festivals is but a drop in the bucket. But it is crucial for many of the recipients. That may be so even more than normal this year, as sponsors they have relied on for years are forced to reduce their support.

Organizers of the fairs and festivals spend most of their money on the events they stage, of course. However, most have ongoing expenses, whether they go forward this year or not.

And, let it not be forgotten that many of the fairs and festivals devote significant percentages of their revenue to worthy causes.

Some state officials may be tempted to cut fairs and festivals funds, to save a few dollars. We encourage them to think again. The relative pittance in state funding for special events is money spent well, if only to ensure that each and every one of them is back next year.

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