Last-minute funding puts Prince George’s County Fair back on track

A long-standing Prince George’s County, Maryland, tradition almost did not happen this year had it not been for a tweet that led to last-minute funding.

Prince George’s County Fair President Debbie Herbert said that after a news outlet interviewed her and tweeted out that the fair was not able to get the funding it requested from the county, officials contacted her to let her know that Prince George’s County would be giving money to keep the fair going this year.

Herbert said that last year’s rainy days depleted the fair’s funding. “We had a horrible year last year,” and she knew organizers were going to need the county’s help to run the fair this year.

She put in a request for funding in February, but she said it did not go where it needed to; so she put it in another request in June.

On Wednesday, she received word that the county was unable to fund the requested $25,000. On Thursday, local news station WJLA reported the financial straits the fair was in.

“Within 30 minutes, I had county people calling me and asking for information; and they said they would be funding it,” Herbert said.

John Erzen, spokesman for County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, called it a case of miscommunication.

Erzen said that the county was unaware of the urgency of the situation and never intended to hold back the funds, which he said are normally paid after the fair, rather than before it begins.

He said the county instead wanted to discuss with organizers exactly how the money would be spent before the funding was approved.

“Certain people will take money after the fair because they’ve worked with us for so long, but there are people that need it upfront. So all of those upfront people are sitting there waiting for me to either pull the trigger yea or nay,” Herbert said.

She said that if the funding had not come through, she dreaded calling vendors who were expecting income from the fair and had scheduled their time to be there. She also lamented the 4-H groups that would miss the chance to show what they had been working on and all the time volunteers spent working on the fair.

“It’s a community. It’s the biggest community thing we have to bring the community together,” Herbert said.

The fair, which started in 1842, is the longest-running Maryland fair. It runs from Sept. 5-8 at Show Place Arena. For more information on tickets and attractions, visit the Prince George’s County Fair website.

WTOP’s Mike Murillo contributed to this report.

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