Governor signs Warnick bill giving boost to Washington’s agricultural fairs

Sen. Judy Warnick’s bill to update state law concerning agricultural fairs and youth shows was signed Tuesday by Gov. Jay Inslee. Senate Bill 6368 makes broad changes to fair funding access, flexibility of funds and administrative oversight. The new law, which received unanimous support in the Legislature, will take effect June 7.

“State laws concerning fairs and youth shows haven’t been updated in 50 years,” said Warnick, who is Republican leader on the Senate’s agriculture committee. “There have been a lot of changes in how fairs come together and what they do for communities across our state. They are an important economic-development tool for rural communities and my bill will help support those efforts far into the future.”

The updates to state law create a more equitable funding process for the 64 agricultural fairs and youth shows held across Washington. In addition, the new law condenses term lengths on the state’s fair commission, and ensures that fairs won’t lose funding as a result of a natural disaster.

“There are some quirks in state law concerning fairs,” said Warnick, R-Moses Lake. “This reform will keep fairs viable and give the state Department of Agriculture more flexibility in how it manages the fair fund.”

The state treasurer is required by law to transfer money to the fair fund, which is administered by the Department of Agriculture. That amount has dwindled in years past and permitted expenses have been limited. Under Warnick’s legislation, the fund will receive $2 million per year to support the expanded definition of fairs.