Non-profit raises money for fairgrounds construction, improvement projects |

Non-profit raises money for fairgrounds construction, improvement projects

A group of concerned citizens has formed a non-profit foundation to address the Albany County Fairgrounds’ unfinished and – some have said – under-funded capital construction projects.

The Albany County Fairgrounds Foundation, a registered 501(c)(3), is officially open for business and ready to receive and administer funds for capital construction and improvement projects for the fairgrounds, Dave Whitman, the foundation’s secretary, said in an interview recently.

“Our mission is to try to raise some funding for the fairgrounds,” he said.

The Albany County Fair Board, which is separate from the foundation, receives 0.46 mills each year, which is well below the one mill it could receive under state statute.

The revenue shortfall is part of the reason the fair board has had to rent storage space in both its Show Arena and Activities Center during the winter months, Whitman said.

“It’s rented almost continually by all types of organizations,” he said.

Apart from providing storage space for boats and cars, the fairgrounds hosts weddings, banquets, health fairs, home shows, youth programs, memorial services, trade shows, carnivals and dances.

The fairgrounds also serves as a temporary emergency facility and voting station during the national and state elections.

“It’s not a facility just used for county fair projects or just agriculture,” Whitman said of the fairgrounds.

While the rental of its facilities has helped generate revenue, the fair board has a number of capital construction and improvement projects that haven’t been addressed due to a lack of funding.

The foundation will raise money for a number of projects, Whitman said, that include making the Grand Stand compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), purchasing a new storage facility to replace a Quonset building that had been damaged beyond repair in a storm several years ago, installing additional hookups for overnight recreation vehicles and improving the horse facilities.

In addition, the foundation wants to raise money to replace the bathrooms near the Grand Stand with a larger ADA-compliant facility.

“Bringing our buildings … up to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, that’s a pretty big area,” Whitman said. “The restroom facilities out there are in need of replacement and/or repair.”

The foundation will attempt to accomplish its funding goals by accepting donations through direct contributions, memorials, charitable gift annuities, endowments and estate planning.

Whitman said the foundation is open public comment and ideas from those who attend its meetings.

“There’s certainly no secrets about what the foundation is all about, and what our concerns are about the needs to the fairgrounds,” he said.

“If somebody has some suggestions … we’d be more than welcome to hear it.”

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