By DENISE A. RAYMO
---- — MALONE — Fair officials have asked Franklin County for $5,000 to award as prize money for a talent show because it can’t generate enough sponsors anymore.
County Attorney Jonathan Miller said taxpayer dollars can’t be given away, but legislators vowed to try to find money within the Youth Bureau budget to help next year.
SO BIG IT MOVED
Franklin County Agricultural Society President Dale Chapin and Secretary Pat Maneely recently made a pitch for funding, along with Michelle Schumacher, director of the Greater Malone YMCA.
The YMCA is paid $5,000 to organize the “Franklin County Has Talent” show, designed to give fairgoers another free activity with the price of their admission.
This year’s show is at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, and is part of Hometown Day, which includes a parade at 6 p.m. through the village.
There are 40 participants signed up so far for the talent show, including singers, dancers and magicians.
Participation has grown so much that the event has to move to the grandstand’s larger main stage.
Winners receive a total of $5,000 in prize money, but less than $1,000 had been collected as of late June.
In the past, the money was raised through donations from the concessionaires, whose businesses profit from the larger fair crowds and increased traffic through the village during Fair Week, Schumacher said.
In exchange, professionally produced advertisements are broadcast over the public-address system to promote each sponsoring business.
But many vendors have declined to contribute the past few years because of the slow economy and lower sales.
Some fair visitors bring their own food in or eat at home or a nearby restaurant before coming to the fair, Schumacher said, so they’re not buying from the vendors.
And businesses in the community are hit up so often for donations that they just don’t have any extra to give, she said.
Chapin stressed the fair’s importance to the county’s financial picture, citing the increase in sales tax and the boost to places like gas stations and convenience stores.
“We want to see if we can get a few dollars out of you to continue this wholesome event,” he said.
Schumacher said it is difficult approaching the same businesses year after year for contributions because “they’re struggling, and it’s embarrassing for them to say they can’t afford it.”
LOOKING TO 2014
Maneely said the fair board pays out $90,000 in premiums to the winners of the animal presentations, food contests and competitions “to keep it agricultural as much as we can,” so there isn’t enough money left for the talent-show prizes.
Legislators agreed the fair is an asset to the county but said they can’t help this year.
However, they are preparing to start work on the 2014 budget and said they will consider an application from the fair board for a portion of funding from the County Youth Bureau.
Email Denise A. Raymo:firstname.lastname@example.org