A ground-breaking future
By KAREN SCHWALLER
SPENCER- Two improvement projects totaling $750,000 are on the starting blocks for the Clay County Fairgrounds in Spencer in light of its 2017 centennial celebration.
Jeremy Parsons, manager of the Clay County Fair, said those two projects are part of the fair’s multi-year, multi-million-dollar renovation of the fairgrounds.
They include a new exhibit building to be located on the eastern edge of the fairgrounds and the upgrading of the fairgrounds’ electrical grid and burial of electrical cables in and around the food court avenue.
Parsons said the building, which will house about 60 new vendors, will be 12,000 square feet – a little smaller than the current Varied Industries Building.
It will be located east of the Creative Living Center near the historical Gate A area. Vendors and exhibits that have been in that location will be moved in light of the new exhibit building.
“The building will provide us with additional commercial and competitive exhibit space beginning in 2017,” said Parsons, adding that fair board members wanted to be confident that the building would be up and ready to go when they said it would be, and could not be assured of that in time for this year’s celebration.
Parsons said the north edge of this building will also feature a large outdoor area where fair goers can sit down. The building will also feature restrooms, which Parsons said the fairgrounds currently does not have at the east end.
“We need an anchor on the east end of the fairgrounds and this building will be a destination to attract people (there) and provide quality exhibit space, nice restrooms and a place to sit. It will be a nice feature for the east end of the fairgrounds,” said Parsons.
Ground was broken for the new building on April 20 by the fair’s executive committee.
Parsons said he is excited about the overhaul of the fairgrounds’ electrical grid in the food court area, saying it will offer vendors more electrical capacity and will clean up the area so it is more pleasing aesthetically, since cables will all be buried.
That project alone will cost $250,000, and will extend into camper areas as well. Parsons said the project will also allow for expansion of electrical usage all around the fairgrounds.
“We’re quadrupling the service,” Parsons said. “Peoples’ campers need more and more electricity and food trailers also need more and more electricity, so hopefully we’ll have plenty of electrical service for our food concessionaires.”
He said the electrical project will begin the week of April 25 and will be finished in about six weeks’ time.
Parsons said food has become the number two reason why fair goers say they come to the fair, with the number one reason being tradition and family time to be spent together.
“These projects are not band-aids,” said Parsons. “These are complete reconstructions that we hope will last for many years to come.”
Parsons said the funding for the fair’s “Centennial Vision” comes from capital campaign funds, along with the fair board’s own “skin in the game.”
“We refinanced the event center construction bonds and borrowed $1 million dollars to make some of these projects occur,” Parsons said.
Parsons added that money also comes from fair goers as they attend the fair.
Dave Simington, chairman of the Clay County Fair Board, said these works are possible in part because of funding brought forth by the community and those who love the fair.
“Whether it’s $500 or $50,000, it’s all valuable to us. It’s important that we’re good stewards of the money and keep these grounds ready for the next 100 years,” Simington said, adding that the fair is a place for families to see the new attractions and have fun together without worrying about the outside world for a day.
“A fair that’s alive is worth the drive,” he said.
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