Got 50 acres of sandy soil in Franklin County? Your agricultural fair wants to talk
Franklin County Field Days has been looking for a new site location for over a year.
And last week the agricultural fair announced on Facebook that landowners should get in touch if they have at least 50 acres of sandy soil located in Franklin County.
The fair must move from its current location at the state airport in Highgate, because of conditions attached to funds that Vermont has accepted from the Federal Aviation Administration — that’s according to Michele Boomhower, division director for policy planning and intermodal development at the Vermont Agency of Transportation.
She says the FAA is requiring that the state airport property be used for aviation business or functions.
"Our Federal Aviation Administration partners meet with us on a pretty regular basis to make sure that we're maintaining the resources they've invested in a way that's consistent with the federal regulations," Boomhower said. "And this has been an area of concern of theirs for some time, and so we've been, you know, working towards this."
She added that VTrans has been working with the Franklin County Industrial Development Corporation and the Northwest Regional Planning Commission to help the Franklin County Field Days board of directors find a new place for the fair.
As for what will replace it once the relocation happens, Boomhower says that's unclear.
“We don't have like, an immediate party that is going to occupy that property for an aviation business purpose or function," she said. "But it's kind of hard to sort of market the property is available when there's still Field Day structures and that sort of thing on it."
Franklin County Field Days has been at the airport for at least two decades, according to its social media and marketing director, Abigail Gagne.
This year's 47th annual fair, held earlier this month, was supposed to be the last in that location, at least from the perspective of VTrans. But Gagne says Franklin County Field Days still hasn't found a new spot.
"We have been looking for a year and a half for a new spot, and have not yet found one that fits what we need from the land," she said. "We would love to stay in our current location — it is ideal."
What "ideal" looks like, according to Gagne, is a parcel within Franklin County that's 80 acres or so. That's bigger than the airport location — she says that would help them create a better layout for the expanding fair.
"This year, we had one of our biggest years at the fair," Gagne said. "And it could be seen that we were very tight on space."
But a smaller space would be OK, she added, as long as the soil is sandy.
“That is a must," Gagne said. "A lot of county fairs are placed on clay soil, and they are pulling cars out of their parking lots if they get even the tiniest bit of rain. And that's just something we're not wanting to do.”
What Franklin County Field Days does want to do, Gagne says, is to make its agricultural fair as accessible as possible to all of Franklin County.
"Franklin County is a farming community ... And it's great for us to see these kids come out and show their animals and have so much pride in what they do," she said. "For the community, this is an event that everybody waits all year for."
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