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Ag fairs eligible for new heritage funding

Community agricultural fairs celebrating special anniversaries may qualify for up to $200,000 in new federal infrastructure cash, according to a national fairs group.

Speaking Wednesday in Halifax, Heritage Minister Josee Verner announced $30 million, as earmarked in the last federal budget, to support arts and heritage events at the community level, including a new Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage program ($18 million), more funds for Arts Presentation Canada ($7.4 million) and $4.6 million toward infrastructure costs related to community anniversaries commemorating a locally significant historical event of person (for the 100th anniversary or greater, in multiples of 25 years).

The Building Communities program has two components: one for local arts and heritage festivals, the other for community historical anniversaries programming. Non-profit corporations, unincorporated community groups, band councils and tribal councils can apply.

David Bednar, president of the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, said in a release today that agricultural fairs could get up to $200,000 each for special anniversary activities — good news, he said, for fairs facing spiraling operation costs and crumbling infrastructures.

“A relatively modest grant can go a long way in a volunteer agricultural society,” said Bednar, also the general manager of Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition. Financial reinvestment can help spur interest and support for these fairs in their communities, he added.

The most pressing application deadline under this program is October 31, 2007 to apply for funding for projects taking place between Jan. 1 and May 31, 2008. More information, funding guides and application forms are available at the Building Communities web site.

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