The Franklin County Agricultural Society, which owns the Franklin County Fairgrounds, has a very serious issue with an embankment collapse.
Over the past three years, an increasing amount of underground water has caused four new streams to form beneath the soil at the Fairgrounds. The water has found its outlet within the embankment on the northern side of the grounds. The excessive water has caused the soil to destabilize and wash away on multiple occasions. Directly below this area are three houses who are continuously affected by mudslides. At least a dozen trees have fallen, which is allowing the issue to experience exponential growth.
In March 2011 this same land ridge failed a thousand feet away at our neighboring Green River Cemetery, which sent 3,000 cubic yards of mud into the neighborhood below. Even closer to the Fairgrounds, Wisdom Way road, located on the ridge, is collapsing. MassDOT is planning a multimillion dollar project to repair that problem.
In the fall of 2018, FCAS hired SVE Associates to examine our issue and design plans to mitigate further deterioration. In early February 2019 we received the final plans, as well as an estimated price of $500,000 to conduct the work.
The Franklin County Fair is a small agricultural fair that has been in Greenfield since 1848. For 171 years the Board of Directors has taken great pleasure in hosting our event. For several years following the Great Recession in 2008, our finances were very tight due to an attendance drop. This forced us to tap deep into savings to keep the fair afloat. Thankfully the economy has recovered in recent years and the fair is making a profit again. However, it’s a minimal drop in the bucket compared to the work that needs to be done.
We have reached out to a number of sources for aid: The Mass Emergency Management Agency has various funding opportunities, but we do not qualify. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service could possibly help in the future, but currently has no budget and is in a “wait and see” holding pattern while the federal shutdown debates continue. We have also reached out to the Mass Department of Agricultural Resources, but have not yet found what we need. Everyone in government we have spoken with has been phenomenal and tried so hard to help, but unfortunately to no avail.
Many people believe the fair is funded by Greenfield tax dollars. In fact, the fair is a non-profit organization and receives no funding at all from the town. Likewise, there is the assumption that the fair is "loaded" because of the perceived amount of money that comes in. Unfortunately for us, everything costs money and the vast majority of our income pays our expenses. Believe it or not, we actually try to keep the gate prices as minimal as possible so that more people can attend.
**We must emphasize the 99.5% of the fairgrounds are completely safe to be on. Summer events will occur and the fair will continue as usual - as well as fairs for years to come. It is only one small area on the outer edge that is in trouble - but it's a very expensive issue that our non-profit needs help with.**
We need YOUR help to save the fairgrounds!
Donations can be sent to:
FCAS - Franklin County Fair
P.O. Box 564
Greenfield, MA 01302
Attn: Mudslide Donations
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