FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- County fairgrounds up and down the state could be on the verge of closing after legislators cut their funding from the state budget.
Managers of the Big Fresno Fair said it isn't in any danger because it's funded through sponsorships, donations and community support, but others aren't fairing so well; especially when it comes to affording maintenance on their facilities.
"The Tulare Co. Fair is extremely important to the residents," said Tulare County Fair CEO Pamela Fyock.
Every summer, the Tulare County Fair attracts about 65,000 people to its concerts, carnivals and contests.
"Not only are they coming to the fair, but the fairgrounds are used for quinceaneras, weddings, we're having a dog show this weekend, we have livestock events so it's really the fabric of the community," added Fyock.
But this year, she has to rely more on the community for financial support after state legislators cut nearly $32 million in state funding from California's 76 county fairs and for the third year in a row.
"We've started a foundation and we have really engaged our county," said Fyock.
A foundation, she said, held a fundraising dinner last March to help lessen the loss of about $300,000. Money that would normally go towards maintaining facilities and updating infrastructure.
"For instance, our livestock show ring was actually condemned and the kids wouldn't have a place to show (their animals) so our foundation is stepping up and we'll start fixing that building in a couple weeks," said Fyock.
But, right now, it only has about half of the money needed to complete the job. A scenario, Republican Assembly Member Frank Bigelow said is becoming all too familiar as county fairs struggle to survive.
"Every fairground is not that far from having to make a hard choice," said Bigelow. "I represent nine different fairgrounds throughout my sprawling district and each and every one of them is key economic drivers to their respective communities. Providing no funding for any of these facilities while increasing spending on costly state programs is absolutely unacceptable."
Bigelow believes local fairgrounds provide much more than family fun throughout California. He argues in times of distress, they serve as a meeting ground and housing for those in need. Especially, during natural disasters when they serve as evacuation centers for residents and staging areas for emergency workers.
He's now pushing for funding to be restored.
"As we head into the third year of complete elimination of state funding for our fairgrounds, we must find a funding source or our communities will lose these valuable resources," he said.
A sentiment echoed by fair C.E.O's throughout the Valley.
"I think all fairs that lost state funding have certainly lost for their infrastructure; they're deferred maintenance because what you can't do today, you can do tomorrow," said Fyock. "But unfortunately we can only put them off for so long."
The C.E.O. of the Merced Co. Fair is also concerned about the lack of state funding. He told action news he has two roofs that need to be replaced at the fairgrounds, as well as aging plumbing, but right now he doesn't have the money to do the work.