Unfortunately, it’s a familiar theme at many fairgrounds across the state of Washington; rundown facilities that have seen better days.  But the state Department of Agriculture is trying to help address some of those needs.  The Washington State Department of Agriculture and the State Legislature recognize the importance of Washington’s fairgrounds, especially to the rural, more remote locations across the Evergreen state.  Since 2003, state lawmakers have awarded roughly $2 million each biennium to health and safety improvement to fairground and facilities.


However, in 2021, the legislature awarded $8 million, enabling 78 projects to be funded across the state.  Fair organizers were able to submit applications for projects equal to or less than $250,000, for capital improvements.  Some of the big winners include: 

  • The Central Washington State Fair, awarded $248,000 
  • The Grant County Fair, which received a $250,000
  • The Okanogan County Fairgrounds, which also received $250,000
  • And the Southwest Washington fairgrounds which was awarded over $250,000 

 For a complete list of all the projects funded statewide, visit the WSDA's Website.

During the pandemic, county fairs were used as vaccination centers; during wildfires, fairs are used to shelter people and livestock; and during the summer months, fairs educate the public about the importance of agriculture in our lives and to our state’s economy.


People often ask what a capital improvement is.  The WSDA said a capital improvement is addition of a structural change or restoration of some part of the property that will improve the health and safety of fair goers.  Projects include upgrades to electrical systems, upgrades to ventilation and filtration systems, replacing drain fields for restrooms, remodeling or constructing restrooms, repairing asphalt on fairgrounds, upgrades to livestock barns and ag buildings, reroofing, adding heating and air conditioning, and many others.


WSDA is funding 78 projects at fairs across the state.  Some projects are large and are part of even larger projects on their grounds. The smallest grant awarded was $5,500 for the installation of new sheep pens and barricades at the Pierce County Fair. To date, 15 projects are complete. Most of the rest are on track to be complete by May 31st.


If the legislature chooses to include funding to the fairs program in the next capital budget, the program will distribute grant applications for fairs next July.


Click Here for a complete list of fairs awarded state funding this year.


If you have a story idea for the PNW Ag Network, call (509) 547-9791, or e-mail glenn.vaagen@townsquaremedia.com 

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