The Metropolitan King County Council approved $150,000 in funding Monday that will assist two programs that are a vital link to the County’s rural roots.
According to a press release there will be $50,000 in King County funding for the continuation of the King County Fair, the oldest fair west of the Mississippi. The adopted 2009 fourth quarter supplemental budget also includes $109,000 for King County 4-H programs.
“The turnaround of the King County Fair in 2009 proved the fair is a popular attraction for King County residents and a valuable outlet for local youth agricultural programs,” Councilman Reagan Dunn said. “The fair is an important educational and cultural tool we should fight to preserve as a part of our unique quality of life here in King County.”
As a result of the 2009 budget allocation, attendance at the 146-year-old fair doubled from 2008 and a task force was assembled to find ways to restore the fair to its previous success. The Fair Task Force recommendations included seeking other funding sources such as the state, the city of Enumclaw, private partners and sponsorships in order for the fair to survive and thrive.
“It was a real struggle to find this funding and I hope it is enough for the city of Enumclaw to put on the event in 2010,” Dunn said. “I am a true believer in its importance to our community.”
The King County Fair is a regional draw for organizations such as 4-H, Future Farmers of America and the equestrian community. As a result of declining revenues and attendance over the past decade and the need to close a budget shortfall in the 2009 King County budget, funding for the fair was cut from the 2009 executive proposed budget, and cut again in the adopted 2010 budget. Given the County’s projected $50 million deficit in 2011, Dunn said it is hard to see how it can receive county funding in the next budget.
“I’m glad that we were able to scrape together enough funding for another year because 4-H is so important to the youth of my district,” Dunn said. “I have heard from hundreds of parents and students who participate or have participated in the program. I have seen them in action at the King County Fair. It was very sad to think that the program might end.”