SALEM, Ohio – The Belmont County Fair may not look like anything out-of-the-ordinary this September, but just wait a few years.
With plans to move from its current 27-acre fairgrounds to a new 162-acre site, big things are in the works.
Downtown troubles. The fair’s been at the same location in downtown St. Clairsville for 157 years, but space is getting tight. Parking is limited, which means drawing large crowds with tractor pulls and concerts is out of the question.
For the past eight years, the fair board has worked to find a new address for the fair, said Ty Justice, board president.
That home will be about five miles from the current grounds. It sits off Interstate 70, west of St. Clairsville, and is adjacent to the Jamboree in the Hills property.
Justice said the goal is to be at the new location in time for the 2009 Belmont County Fair.
An agreement. The city of St. Clairsville paid $1 million for the old fairgrounds and plans to turn most of it into a park, Justice said.
Part of the agreement, however, is to allow the fair to remain there for the next three years while construction is being done at the new location, he said.
The first building, the James E. Carnes Center, is already up. The 30,000-square-foot, $2.5 million facility is mainly used for wedding receptions and banquets, Justice said.
The building is owned by the Belmont Park District but the fair has exclusive use the week before, during and after the fair, he said.
Plans. With more space, fairgoers can plan on truck and tractor pulls, bigger entertainers and motocross to be added to the annual fair lineup.
Those things will have to wait, though.
Excavation is in the works now and buildings are next on the list. Justice said the agricultural society has blueprints for eight buildings. Six will be livestock barns, one will be a maintenance shop, and one will be for the junior fair board. He hopes they will be started by winter or early spring.
Collapsible stalls in the livestock barns will mean they can be used for public storage in the winter.
The grounds will also be used for the overflow camping from Jamboree in the Hills.
In addition, the ag society is proposing to build an indoor arena for Quarter Horse shows.
Numbers. The Belmont County fair board bought half the property for $200,000 and is leasing the rest from the Belmont Park District for $1 a year, Justice said.
The $1 million it received for the old grounds will help pay for construction efforts.
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