AUBURN — It's official. The Cayuga County Fair and the Remember the Big 6 Picnic and 4-H Youth Country Fair will combine in 2018 at Emerson Park. It will take place July 26 to 28.
Robin Bartholomew, treasurer and secretary of the agricultural society, told Cayuga County legislators the news at a Planning Committee meeting Tuesday night. Many on the committee clapped. The decision wraps up a more than year-long struggle of the organizations to combine.
"We all feel it's really important that we do this for the youth and promotion of agriculture in our community, so that's why we feel it's important that we get back together," Bartholomew said.
The picnic and the county fair originally ran together from the 1930s to 2011, the year when they split. Both separate events were held at Emerson Park this year, with the grounds situated at the Ward W. O'Hara Agricultural & Country Living Museum and Dr. Joseph F. Karpinski Sr. Educational Center in Owasco. Dan Thurston, committee member of Remember the Big 6, said he thinks everything has now been chiseled out to merge, and the organizations are ready to move forward with planning next year.
One of the biggest hurdles for the groups to overcome was setting a date. Bartholomew said the end of July now works for most county fair participants because the Empire State Goat Show has been discontinued.
The news did come with a request to legislators, however. Bartholomew asked that the county restore funds to the fair. She said in the past, the body had designated $7,500 to each entity. Having calculated shared costs among the organizations, Bartholomew and Thurston requested the county give the combined fair about $27,750.
Thurston added that because of the likelihood the fair's footprint will expand, he'd like the Legislature to allow children's activities to be stationed at the soccer field at Emerson Park.
Legislature Chairman Keith Batman said he's working on the county's budget for next year. He told Bartholomew and Thurston that he would not automatically insert the figure into the budget, but he would consider how some funding might fit. Legislators will vote on the budget at the end of the year.
"I'm really excited about the future," Thurston said. "I hope you can support us."
In other news:
• Committee members passed a resolution entering the county into a new, three-year contract with the Cayuga Economic Development Agency. The contract is for the year 2018 at a cost not to exceed $350,000, but it includes the option for two additional calendar years should annual legislative funding resolutions be passed.
The resolution did not pass, however, without some legislators expressing doubt on moving forward.
Legislator Tim Lattimore asked CEDA Executive Director Tracy Verrier to provide a breakdown of the cost per job funded by the approximately $2 million the county has provided to the corporation since 2010, "so we can see what kind of bang we're getting for the buck."
"I've given them time to grow and get their feet wet, but you have to have some accountability," he added.
Verrier said she would look into it.
Legislator Andy Dennison asked if Verrier had approached the city of Auburn about funding the agency, too. Verrier said the city does contract with CEDA for its loan program, but conversations about funding the agency have never moved forward considering the city is a municipality within the county.
Dennison suggested tabling the resolution, and Lattimore agreed.
"I would be more than happy to back up a proposal to replace CEDA with something else if you would just bring something else to the table," said Legislator Ben Vitale directly to Lattimore. "At this point in time there's nothing else at the table, and we need to have economic development in Cayuga County. So, for people here to consider just putting this off, I don't think you're going to bring something else to the table next month, so I would say you need to move it along."
No official motion was made to table, and the resolution will move to the Ways and Means Committee at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19 in the Sixth Floor Chambers of the Cayuga County Office Building, 160 Genesee St., Auburn.