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AGLO 1979 No. 28 - August 15, 1979
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

FAIRS ‑- AGRICULTURE ‑- FLOWER SHOWS ‑- PLOWING MATCHES ‑- ELIGIBILITY FOR ALLOCATION OF FUNDS UNDER CHAPTER 15.76 RCW

(1) Those shows dealing with only a single subject, such as a flower show or a plowing match, do not by themselves constitute "agricultural fairs" so as to qualify for the allocation of state funds under the provisions of chapter 15.76 RCW.

(2) The director of Agriculture does not have the authority, under existing law, to allocate funds to a county or community with more than one qualifying agricultural fair and then allow the county or community to decide on how the money will be allocated between two or more fairs.

                                                                  - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                 August 15, 1979

Honorable Bob J. Mickelson
Director Department of Agriculture
406 General Administration Bldg.
Olympia, Washington 98504                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1979 No. 28

Dear Sir:

            By recent letter you requested our opinion on the following two questions pertaining to agricultural fairs under the provisions of chapter 15.76 RCW.

            "(1) Do shows dealing with a single subject such as a flower show or a plowing match qualify for the allocation of funds pursuant to this law?

            "(2) As the law is now written, does the Director of Agriculture have the authority to allocate funds to a county or community with more than one qualifying agricultural fair and allow the county or community to decide on how the money will be allocated between two or more fairs?"

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            We answer both of your questions in the negative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Chapter 15.76 RCW relates to agricultural fairs, youth shows and exhibitions.  Pursuant to RCW 15.76.140-15.76.165, certain state funds are made available for allocation to such fairs or shows by the director of Agriculture.

            Question (1):

            Your first question is whether shows dealing with a single subject, such as a flower show or a plowing match, qualify for the allocation of funds under this law as a type of "agricultural fair."  In response, we first note that this term is nowhere defined in the law.  In RCW 15.76.120, however, we find the following classification of all such fairs:

            "For the purposes of this chapter all agricultural fairs in the state which may become eligible for state allocations shall be divided into categories, to wit:

            "(1) 'Area fairs'‑-those not under the jurisdiction of boards of county commissioners; organized to serve an area larger than one county, having both open and junior participation, and having an extensive diversification of classes, displays and exhibits;

            "(2) 'County and district fairs'‑-organized to serve the interests of single counties other than those in which a recognized area fair or a district fair as defined in RCW 36.37.050, is held and which are under the direct control and supervision of the county commissioners of the respective counties, which have both open and junior participation, but whose classes, displays and exhibits may be more restricted or limited than in the case of area or district fairs.  There may be but one county fair in a single county:  PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That the county commissioners of two or more counties may, by  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] resolution, jointly sponsor a county fair.

            "(3) 'Community fairs'‑-organized primarily to serve a smaller area than an area or county fair, which may have open or junior classes, displays, or exhibits. There may be more than one community fair in a county.

            "(4) 'Youth shows and fairs'‑-approved by duly constituted agents of Washington State University and/or the Washington state board for vocational education, serving three or more counties, and having for their purpose the education and training of rural youth in matters of rural living."  (Emphasis supplied)

            Thus, unless a particular show or exhibition constitutes one of these four types of fairs it is not, and may not qualify as, an agricultural fair for the purpose of receiving any allocation of state funds under the law.

            In addition, as a further aid to ascertaining legislative intent we may, in the absence of a specific statutory definition, properly turn to the common, ordinary meaning of the term "agricultural fair." Accord, New York Life Ins. v. Jones, 86 Wn.2d 44, 541 P.2d 989 (1975).  In this instance, referring to Ballentine's Law Dictionary, Third Edition, we find that term defined as:

            "A fair or exhibition, conducted by a state or county board of agriculture or by an agricultural society, which is intended to promote agriculture by including exhibits of livestock, agricultural products, farm machinery, and other products and items of interest to farmers and their families, as well as to provide amusement and entertainment for its patrons."

            Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the meaning of the term "agricultural fair" must be considered in the light of the underlying purpose and object of this particular body  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] of legislation.  As stated inState ex rel. Spokane Etc. R. v. The Department of Public Service, 191 Wash. 595, 598, 71 P.2d 661 (1937),

            ". . . in determining the legislative intent, the purpose for which a law was enacted is a matter of prime importance in arriving at a correct interpretation of its parts."

            Here the purpose of chapter 15.76 RCW is to encourage the conduct of agricultural fairs,

            ". . . including the exhibition of livestock and agricultural produce of all kinds, as well as related arts and manufactures; including products of the farm home and educational contest, displays and demonstrations designed to train youth and to promote the welfare of farm people and rural living. . . ."  (RCW 15.76.100)

            A common element found in the above definition of "agricultural fair," the purpose provision of chapter 15.76 RCW and the classification scheme of agricultural fairs contained in RCW 15.76.120, supra, is that an agricultural fair involves diversification of classes, displays and exhibits.  Although the law here states no minimum requirement in terms if diversity, we further think that by relating the definitions of county and district fairs to the definition of an area fair (which expressly requires extensive diversification of classes, displays and exhibits), the legislature has implicitly acknowledged that diversification of some measure is a necessary characteristic of an agricultural fair‑-consistent with the ordinary concept of the term "agricultural fair."

            Accordingly, in summary, we answer your first question in the negative.  In our opinion those shows dealing with only a single subject, such as a flower show or a plowing match, do not by themselves constitute "agricultural fairs" so as to qualify for the allocation of state funds under the provisions of chapter 15.76 RCW.

            Question (2):

            Your second question inquires as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 5]]

            "As this law is now written, does the Director of Agriculture have the authority to allocate funds to a county or community with more than one qualifying agricultural fair and allow the county or community to decide how the money will be allocated between two or more fairs?"

            This question, in our opinion, must also be answered in the negative.  If the director were to allocate funds to a county or community for disbursement among two or more eligible fairs, he would be delegating the authority granted to him by the legislature.  It is well established, however, that where the legislature has delegated discretionary powers to a public officer or board, those powers cannot be further delegated to others unless the legislature has authorized such sub‑delegation; Roehl v. Public Utility Dist. No. 1, 43 Wn.2d 214, 240, 261 P.2d 92 (1953);Ledgering v. State, 63 Wn.2d 94, 99, 385 P.2d 522 (1963); andIn Re Puget Sound Pilots Ass'n, 63 Wn.2d 142, 145, 385 P.2d 711 (1963).  In this instance we can find nothing in chapter 15.76 RCW or any other law which may be said to fulfill that function.

            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

SLADE GORTON
Attorney General


MARIANNE McGETTIGAN
Assistant Attorney General

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