Extension will use state funds for performance stage at fairgrounds

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 February 2017 at 7:40 pm

File photo by Tom Rivers: Rich Nolan performs “Eight Second Ride” during the karaoke finals on July 30, 2015. The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orleans County wants to have a permanent stage at the fairgrounds, with the stage also available as an outdoor classroom for master gardeners and agricultural specialists.

KNOWLESVILLE – The Cornell Cooperative Extension has decided on the main project for a $96,000 state grant to be used to boost the fairgrounds.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month announced each county fair would receive an $89,285 grant for a capital project. That grant increased to $96,000 once the paperwork arrived, said Robert Batt, a 4-H educator.

A committee at the Extension wants to put most of the money into upgrading a performance stage at the Curtis Pavilion.

That stage could be used during the week-long 4-H Fair for dancers, bands and other activities. It also could serve as an outdoor classroom for the master gardeners and agricultural specialists at other times of the year, Batt said today.

The Extension would like to have a 40-foot-wide stage that is 30 feet deep. The project would also include a separate area that could be used as a changing room or a spot to prep materials for educational presentations, Batt said.

The new performance stage would spare the Extension from having to pay $2,000 each fair for a temporary stage with a large tent. That $2,000 could instead be put towards programming at the fair, he said.

The Extension also would like to install a sound system for the Curtis Pavilion if there is enough money in the grant.

If there is additional money left after the stage project, Batt said the Extension would also like to install a new wash rack for horses. Right now, 4-H kids wash their horses in the grass, which becomes muddy as fair week stretches on. Ideally, the horses would have a wash rack like the new one with a concrete base that was installed for cattle last year. That cost about $15,000, Batt said.

The state is making the grants available to all the county fairs in the state, hoping the capital improvements can help the local fairs better showcase local agriculture.

The performance stage met the criteria by the state because the stage will also serve as an outdoor classroom for agriculture specialists and master gardeners, Batt said.

“These investments will help these fairs attract more visitors, raise the profile of local vendors and businesses, and help spur economic growth across New York,” Cuomo said last month when he announced the grants.

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