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State Fair looking to start its own foundation; bill heard in Senate committee Tuesday

The Kansas State Fair wants to start their own non-profit foundation for the purposes of taking donations for the benefit of the fair. The bill to do that passed the Kansas House earlier this session and the Senate hearing was Tuesday in the Senate Ag committee.

“When people plan their estates or trusts, they can include a foundation,” said State Fair Board President Virginia Crossland-Macha. “Some of that would be key for us to be on that fast track to be part of their giving.”

Crossland-Macha did her homework to find out best practices for a State Fair.

“I studied the fairs of our size across the United States and what made them so successful,” said Crossland-Macha. “You’d like to mirror success. It seemed the common denominator was the foundation. Indiana has a similar fair attendance where it’s situated.”

Indiana has had great growth in its foundation in the last few years.

“They put $186,000 for the first year in 2011,” Crossland-Macha said. “In 2016, they grew that to a little less than $11 million. There is a potential there.”

The intent is not to hire a separate executive director, but to include that fundraising in the job description of the current Industry Relations and Development Director, Connie Schmitt, who was promoted to that position this past July.

“We would never want the tail to wag the dog,” said Crossland-Macha. “We would be very careful in making the Fair Board always the last word. They will dictate pretty much every decision that this foundation makes.”

There is no word yet on when the bill will be worked in committee.


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