LANSING — The state
may eliminate its subsidy of state fairs and solicit donations as a
replacement. The fairs — one in Detroit and another in Escanaba — have been
perennial money-losers and required $350,000 in state money last year,
according to the Detroit Free Press.
Granholm highlighted the fairs in her State of the State address. "[W]hile they
are a wonderful tradition, the state fairs are not an essential purpose of
government. I'm grateful that others are stepping forward to continue this
tradition," she stated.
Legislature voted to fund the state fair, the governor vetoed the move. "Government
in these times cannot be all things to all people," stated gubernatorial
spokesperson Megan Brown to the Michigan Information & Research Service in
reference to the fair.
The annual fair
concluded in September, but the state fair board is exploring possibilities of
staying open without direct state support, according to meeting minutes.
The Mackinac Center has called for the elimination of
the state subsidy for the fairs since 1996, when authors Joe Overton and Aaron
Steelman argued, "[T]here is no reason to believe that we need the state to run
the Michigan State Fair in order for there to be one." Mackinac Center scholars
argued in 2003 that selling the fairgrounds may bring the state
$59 million, although the real estate market has changed since then.
References: "Money sought to keep State Fair alive,"
Detroit Free Press, Feb. 3, 2009
"Alice Cooper too pricey for State Fair," The Detroit
News, July 15, 2009
"Gov Likely to Veto State Fair $," Michigan Information
& Research Service, Oct. 2, 2009
"Fairs to Remember," Michigan Privatization Report,
"Advancing Civil Society: A State Budget to Strengthen
Michigan Culture," Mackinac Center for Public Policy, April 1996