The Summerland Exhibition Association has received $17,000 from the province in the latest round of gaming grants.
The funding for the fair was part of $3,161,195, given to 146 community organizations around the province.
“The Summerland Fall Fair is a great event with a long history. It’s been held every year since 1909 and brings together so many people in the community,” Penticton MLA Bill Barisoff said.
The grants are part of the first round of provincial gaming revenue grants for this fiscal year.
But Connie Davis, president of the Summerland Exhibition Association, said the fair has had a difficult time with its grant funding in the past.
She said last year’s grant funding came on June 4, just three months before the fair which is held annually in September.
“We need to get money in our pockets a lot sooner,” she said. “Until we see the money in the bank account, we can’t move.”
The committee has been planning this year’s fair since the beginning of the year and has needed funds to pay deposits on some of its expenses.
Barisoff said the province is making efforts to distribute the gaming funds earlier in the year.
He said this would allow organizations to plan without wondering if the funding would become available.
She added that the funding was announced publicly before she or other fair organizers had been informed about it.
“I think it’s a little disheartening when a group is not aware of it,” she said.
The fair has a budget of $60,000 to $65,000, including the grant money.
Davis said the grant is needed since entry fees for the exhibition only cover the costs of the prize money, not the entire costs of operating the fair.
Barisoff said the grants were originally given for special projects or additions on top of an organization’s regular operating budget.
“Originally the grants were supposed to top things up,” he said. “Now they’ve become part of the actual budget.”
Last year, the province distributed $135 million in gaming grants to around 6,000 community groups throughout B.C. The funding is higher than the $120 million originally budgeted.