Updated: April 26, 2021 11:26 PM
Created: April 26, 2021 10:43 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — “The fair must go on", those were the words of Gov. Andrew Cuomo Monday afternoon as he announced the state fair would return this year.
While this is good news, local fairs or carnivals haven't received any guidance. Fire companies around Monroe County are on the verge of canceling their yearly fundraisers, if they haven't already, for another year in a row.
The Hilton Fire Department hosts one of the biggest carnivals in this area. A post on social media earlier this month said they were continuing with plans to operate, but Governor Cuomo’s announcement Monday opening the state fair raises questions.
"What is going to open up and when is it going to open up. I mean we can do a chicken barbeque, but everyone is doing that this year so really, what else can we do,” Hilton Fire Department President Gregory Nichols said.
Nichols says he's been involved in the carnival for 50 years. He says they worry about how they can continue to protect their community. This year they've had to dip into their reserve fund.
"We will lose about $10,000 dollars without the carnival,” Nichols said.
Volunteer fire departments depend on these events in order to flip on a siren and respond to your 9-1-1 call.
"They're using fire equipment that may be over 20 years old because they have no way to make money,” Monroe County Volunteer Fireman's Association President Michael Lapinski said.
Lapinski said they're ringing the alarm for manpower, but even the state is struggling to fill the space.
"New York State has recruit and retention that they're having problems with because how can you recruit and let people in the firehouse when we have COVID,” Lapinski said.
New York State Assemblyman Josh Jensen (R, 134) says the "lack of state guidance" for fire departments is unfair, that these local carnivals operate the same way the as the state fair does with rides, games, food and more.
"That's why they have to have these fundraisers so they can get the resources they need without putting their hand in the communities pocket through the tax levy and the longer we keep them in the dark by the state, the longer we could potentially be hurting our communities,” Jensen told News10NBC.
The Hilton Fire Department says it's still moving forward with plans to try and have its carnival from July 14 through July 17. It has a soft date of pulling the plug around June 1 if it doesn't get more guidance.
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