(The Center Square) – The State Controlling Board has approved $4.7 million in funding intended to help fairs comply with COVID-19 health guidelines.
“Ohio’s fairs showcase our vibrant agricultural communities and mark a year of hard work and preparation by so many of our young people involved in 4-H,” state Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, said in a statement in which he also mentioned the Future Farmers of America. “We worked hard to ensure that these events would go on this summer and that families could have a safe but fun experience across Ohio.”
Fairs with a junior fair are eligible for $50,000, while events that do not have a junior element are eligible for $15,000.
“This initiative will allow our fairs to go on as planned,” state Rep. Diane Grendell, R-Chesterland, said in a statement. “Many families and children across our district participate in the variety of events at our fairs so this will be a great moment for our communities to come together while following safety guidelines amid COVID-19.”
According to a Legislative Service Commission (LSC) analysis, 87 county fairs and seven independent fairs are scheduled for 2020.
Last week, Democrats in the state House proposed an amendment to House Bill 665, a bill related to fairs, to ban the display, distribution, possession or sale of Confederate memorabilia at local or county fairs. The push failed.
“The Confederate flag is a banner of white supremacy and a reminder of our nation’s original sin of slavery,” state Rep. Juanita Brent, D-Cleveland, said in a news release.
“That Republicans in the Ohio House cannot bring themselves to vote to condemn and prohibit these displays of white supremacy and outright racism at our local and county exhibitions – the places where we go to celebrate the best of Ohio – is a real shame, and a black eye on this institution,” Brent added. “If we don’t stand up to white supremacists, we stand with them.”
Opponents of the amendment said banning the flag would infringe on attendees’ First Amendment rights.