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Fair and show grants up for grabs, for Michigan groups

LANSING, Mich. — State officials have announced two competitive grant opportunities, one for Michigan county fairs and another for shows and expositions.

The one with the most money available for funding is the capital improvement grant program for county fairs. This year there is $629,300 available for this program. An additional $20,000 is available for shows and expositions.

The total figure for both is double what has been available in previous funding rounds, said Cinda Karlik, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), which administers the programs.

The county fairs program makes grants available for building and other capital improvements to fairground facilities. The $20,000 noted above is available for associations or other organized events hosting fairs or expositions showing livestock and commodities. Both grant proposals must be received by MDARD no later than Feb. 1.

Improvements at county fairgrounds include structural changes or other renovations to buildings; however, other kinds of improvements may be included. The shows and expositions grant provides financial support for awards in the form of premiums or promotional activities for livestock and commodity expositions. Livestock expositions hosting expos must meet the required number of exhibitors.

According to Karlik, the capital improvement grant has helped county fairs and even has a knock-on effect for surrounding communities.

“I can tell you that a grant for the Allegan County Fair allowed them to host an RV event, and that will bring in more money to the fair entity,” Karlik explained. She said the grant will allow the fair to have more events ongoing than it would have otherwise.

In another example, she said the Shiawassee County Fair was able to build a barn with grant money and that allowed it to host a dog show; the barn will also allow the fair association to host more events throughout the year.

Last year, shows and expositions grants were awarded to Iosco County Agricultural Society, Ottawa County Fair, Michigan Pork Producers Assoc., Michigan Great Lakes International Draft Horse Show and Michigan Livestock Expo, for a total of $17,855.

For last year’s capital improvement grant round, Barry County Agricultural Society, Chelsea Community Fair, Chippewa County Stalwart Agricultural Fair Assoc., Clare County Agricultural Society and 20 others received grants totaling $269,296.

Submitted applications will go through a competitive grant process and be reviewed by an evaluation committee. Eligible applicants include fairs incorporated under Michigan Act 80 of 1855 or county owned and operated fairs operating under Act 11 of 1929, that have submitted all required year-end reports for the previous two years.

Any fair that received a competitive capital improvement grant for the period April 1-Dec. 31, 2017, is not eligible for this round.

For detailed program information, an application form and submission criteria, visit or email Cinda Karlik at or call 517-284-5723. Proposals should be sent to MDARD at P.O. Box 30017, Lansing, MI 48909 and must be received – not postmarked – by 5 p.m. on Feb. 1.