Fair budget cuts would hit youngsters

Money for prizes and programs would be slashed in Gov. Chris Gregoire's budget proposal.

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WALLA WALLA -- Money for youth programs at the Walla Walla County fair is on the chopping block.

Proposed cuts to the state's Fair Fund would slash $56,000 from the Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days budget this year, said Cory Hewitt, fairgrounds general manager. The money is among $1.2 million Gov. Chris Gregoire has proposed taking from the fund which up to now has provided $2 million to 70 fairs in the state.

Hewitt told county commissioners last week that half the $56,000 is used for premiums paid to 4-H and FFA youngsters as prize money for showing animals while the other half is used to run programs for young exhibitors. Hewitt said that for many young people, this is the first money they earn for the hard work that goes into raising animals for the fair.

Walla Walla County's fair won't be the only one in the state hurt by the proposed cuts. According to the Tri-City Herald, the Benton County Fair & Rodeo is facing a $50,000 shortfall and the Central Washington Fair in Yakima was expecting $75,000 from the fund. The Evergreen State Fair in Snohomish County stands to lose $82,000 for exhibitor prizes and programs if the cuts are approved, according to the Everett Herald.

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