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Funding: Justice made right call to help events survive

When Gov. Jim Justice announced approximately $2.7 million was coming from the Governor’s Contingency Fund in the form of grants to fairs and festivals across the state, it is understandable that some might have wondered why the organizations who makes those events happen need that kind of money right now. After all, they’re all canceled, aren’t they?

Precisely.

In a normal year, “if we make enough to pay the bills and have a little bit left to get things started for next year, then it’s been a good year,” according to Wirt County Fair volunteer Debbie Hennen.

There are no ticket sales this year, no entry fees, no percentage of vendor sales to throw toward next year’s events — whether they be as small as the Pine Grove Fourth of July celebration in Wetzel County, which received $4,158, or as large as the Mountain State Arts and Crafts Fair at Cedar Lakes in Jackson County, which received $26,732.

That $2.7 million, which came in two waves, does not seem quite as big when one realizes it might keep nearly 400 fair and festival organizations afloat long enough to ensure they will be able to hold their events next year, does it?

“The people that are putting on our fairs and festivals are doing this because of their love for our state and our communities,” Justice said last week. “But they’re not flush with extra dollars and, at the end of the day, when something happens like what happened, where we had to stop our fairs and festivals, it put us in jeopardy of losing many of them altogether.”

Losing them would have been an incalculable blow. Good for the governor, for doing what he could to make sure that does not happen.

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