Controversial Pipeline Project Sponsors Augusta County Fair

Posted: Updated: Aug 13, 2016 05:21 PM
Augusta County Fair Augusta County Fair
Sign at Augusta County Fair Sign at Augusta County Fair

A group opposed to Dominion's proposed natural gas pipeline is raising alarms about the company's sponsorship of an Augusta County tradition.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline paid at least $3,500 to sponsor this year's Augusta County Fair. A banner now hangs outside the entrance to the fair at Augusta Expo, proclaiming the Atlantic Coast Pipeline a sponsor of the event.

"It's not just Dominion, because Dominion sponsors a lot of things. It's specifically Atlantic Coast Pipeline. They're making a point," said Augusta County Alliance Chair Nancy Sorrells.

Sorrells believes Dominion is throwing its corporate weight around by paying to put the Atlantic Coast Pipeline name on the community's summertime tradition.

“I put the blame squarely on Dominion and their Atlantic Coast Pipeline project that they would really have the nerve to try to come in and sully our event,” Sorrells said.

Hundreds of landowners, as well as county supervisors, have repeatedly opposed the pipeline project.

The Augusta County Fair is run as a nonprofit by a board of mostly volunteers. Its president, Kathryn McMillan, says Dominion is a long-time sponsor of the fair.

“Just because a local nonprofit or business is at the Augusta County Fair, does not mean that that's the Augusta County Fair or board members' opinions or views,” she said.

Sorrells calls the sponsorship "insulting", since the fair celebrates the county's agricultural heritage.

Opponents to the pipeline say the project would destroy family farms and the natural landscape.

Dominion plans to put the Atlantic Coast Pipeline logo on more community events, even though the project still needs approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

“We do, absolutely, intend to continue to be a good neighbor in as many ways as we can demonstrate that, including sponsoring fantastic family events,” said Dominion External Affairs Manager Carla Picard.

“Just because they're throwing sponsorship money at our event, that doesn't buy our loyalties,” Sorrells said.

In a statement, Dominion said, "Atlantic Coast Pipeline has sponsored organizations, fairs, celebrations, dinners, fireworks displays, etc. across West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. In Augusta County, Atlantic Coast Pipeline has sponsored the Augusta County Fair, South River Fly Fishing Festival, and the Sportable Paralympics and Riverfest events. We will continue investing in communities and be a good neighbor for years to come.”

Sorrells is urging people to still show up to support the Augusta County Fair, and let Dominion know their thoughts on the pipeline.