The Guilford Agricultural Society , founded in 1859, produces the annual Guilford Fair — Connecticut’s second-oldest fair, and a Library of Congress Local Legacy . The Fair is a true community event, held close in the hearts and minds of generations of participants and fairgoers alike.
The cancellation of this year’s Fair — as well as numerous other income-generating events on the Fairgrounds — has left the Agricultural Society with a significant operating deficit. We are turning to our many “Friends of the Fair” — folks like you — to help us raise at least $50,000 to fill this large, sudden and unforeseen hole in our budget caused by the pandemic of 2020.
The Society’s mission and efforts have kept agriculture in the forefront of the minds of Connecticut residents since 1859. As a 501 (c)5 agricultural/horticultural organization, the Society also owns and maintains the 30+ acre Fairgrounds adjacent to the town of Guilford’s historic district. The Fair and the Society are so interwoven into the fabric of Guilford and the surrounding communities that many folks assume we are town-funded and are supported by taxpayer dollars. On the contrary, we rely solely on event revenue, donations and many dedicated volunteers to maintain the grounds and pay for the myriad, ongoing expenses needed to support and preserve this special spot in the heart of the community.
The roots of The Guilford Agricultural Society run deep. At a time of environmental advocacy, the Society’s goals dovetail closely with the current movement to better understand our Earth, its inhabitants and its rich resources. We hope that what we describe here can earn your special consideration and financial support during this difficult time.
Contributions of any amount to our campaign will be helpful.
It is no small feat to produce a signature annual event that focuses on this goal. Each fall our three-day Fair draws as many as 20,000 people. Imagine if those same 20,000 people gave $10 each. Our shortfall would be resolved and we could continue with our plans to build another barn!
Our goals are:
1) Fund planned and unexpected maintenance and upkeep of the existing property and its infrastructure, and,
2) Contribute to the Guilford Fairgrounds’ physical plant improvement and upgrade plans for the long-term viability of the fairgrounds.
These goals are not aspirational. They are ongoing, annual goals of the Society. The 2020 COVID pandemic has derailed the fundraising needed to achieve these goals — plans that are critical to the Fairgrounds’ sustainability.
For years the Society has heard townspeople talk about the Fairgrounds as a taxpayer amenity – almost a second town green. And just to reiterate: the Agricultural Society and the Fair receive no tax dollars to support our operations. The Fairgrounds has always been offered for rentals, on a limited schedule and scope determined by town rules. And some town events held there are FREE of rent and charges — such as providing the grounds for the annual town fireworks or, just recently, the 2020 Guilford High School Graduation. The Fairgrounds themselves are a vital and irreplaceable asset to our entire community.
Even small gifts from those of you who have enjoyed past fairs; 2020 GHS graduates and their families who loved their graduation event this summer; all those who can’t wait for next year’s fireworks; neighbors and other friends — all donations are deeply appreciated.
We know many are facing hard financial times. We know you are being asked to give to many causes. We don’t take this challenge lightly.
The Agricultural Society has never lost sight of its fundamental purpose, which is to remain a living agricultural, historical, and educational institution in the community that also provides family entertainment and many happy memories. Please help us preserve, protect and maintain this jewel in our community.
Thank you for your consideration and we will keep you up to date on our progress.
— Guilford Agricultural Society 2020 COVID Recovery Team
- Jersey Mike’s Guilford
- Michael Kelley
- Phyllis Fleno
- Jonathan and Nancy Bishop
- GHS 2020 Graduate
Organizer and beneficiary
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