Canfield Fair breaks ground on $2.7M event center

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canfield fair event center sign
The Canfield Fair board broke ground on its new event center that will house the junior fair next year. (Rachel Wagoner photo)

CANFIELD, Ohio — The junior fair will not be tucked away at the north end of the Canfield fairgrounds any longer.

The Canfield Fair Foundation board of directors broke ground on the new 35,000 square-foot event center Sept. 25 that will give the junior fair ample space to grow. The building is projected to cost about $2.7 million.

“The areas that animals occupied were being outgrown by increasing number of junior fair members and their multiple projects,” said David Dickey, Canfield Fair Foundation president. “To relocate and build a new junior fair complex is going to be a major game-changer for the whole fairgrounds and Mahoning Valley.”

The building will be available for the public to rent the other 50 weeks of the year, hopefully driving economic growth in the area, Dickey said.

david dickey speaks
David Dickey, president of the Canfield Fair, speaks at the groundbreaking for the new event center at the fairgrounds. (Rachel Wagoner photo)

Growing fast

Dickey said keeping youth in agriculture has been the driving force for the project.

Ward Campbell, junior fair director, said they had 100 children apply to have steers projects this year, an increase of about 10 to 15% over past years.

“The more we can get kids involved in anything agriculture related, the more success this fair will have and these children will have when they become adults,” Campbell said.

They looked into expanding the buildings where the junior fair sits now, Dickey said, but found it’d be too costly to make improvements to an area that’s only used a couple weeks out of the year.

A multi-use building to house the junior fair animals and provide a space for the community all year was the way to go, he said.

A community effort

The 4-H’ers have already taken ownership of the building, literally and figuratively.

The foundation launched a capital campaign in 2017 to raise more than $4 million to build the event center.

To reach that goal, fundraising events have been held, bringing in money bit by bit, like the Rooster Rally car show on Sept. 21 that was put on by the Blue Ribbon Wranglers 4-H club.

Shawn Adams, 9, watched his dad Pat help to organize the car show and had his own idea for how to raise money for the event center.

“He thought ‘maybe I should give my pig up,’” said Pat Adams, leader of the Blue Ribbon Wranglers club.

At the Canfield Fair junior livestock sale last month, Shawn announced his intentions to give the money from the sale of his market hog to the new junior fair building.

His hog sold for $48/pound for a total of nearly $11,000, Pat Adams said.

Nine other children were inspired and followed suit, also donating the money from the sale of their animals, Campbell said.

In all, 4-H’ers gave about $25,000 from the livestock sale to the capital campaign.

4-her with construction team
Shawn Adams stands among the construction team and Canfield Fair leadership at the groundbreaking for the new event center. Shawn donated the proceeds from the sale of his market hog to the event center fundraiser.

Just the beginning

So far, $2.1 million has come in from businesses, individuals and community groups, putting the capital campaign halfway to its goal. That’s enough to get started on phase one, which is the building itself.

The second phase, estimated to cost $1.4 million, will put add on the new junior fair office, lobby, restrooms and a catering kitchen on the event center.

This is the first time in its history the fair asked the community for this kind of support.

Fair officials hoped the groundbreaking and building the event center would show their commitment to the entire project and inspire more giving.

The third phase of the project will add on to the event center. Phase four would put in a covered riding arena and two horse stables.

Making moves

The event center will sit at the southeast corner of the fairgrounds, near Gate F where the steam show, antique show and open sheep and goat barn used to sit. 

Once it moves to the event center, the junior fair will also take over the rabbit and poultry barn, using it to house small animal projects, Campbell said.

The displaced displays and animals will take over the existing junior fair area at the north end of the fairgrounds.

The area has been graded and construction will begin soon on the building. It is expected to be completed by July 2020, before the start of the 174th Canfield Fair, said Bergen Giordani, campaign coordinator.

Contractors for the project include DPH Architecture, York Mahoning Mechanical Contractors, J. Herbert Construction Co., Less Contracting, Joe Dickey Electric and Komar Anchor Plumbing and Drain Service.

(Reporter Rachel Wagoner can be contacted at 800-837-3419 or rachel@farmanddairy.com.)

canfield fair capital campaign map
This graphic shows the four phases of the Canfield Fair’s capital campaign project. (courtesy of Canfield Fair)

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Rachel is a reporter with Farm and Dairy and a graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She married a fourth-generation beef and sheep farmer and settled down in her hometown in Beaver County. Before coming to Farm and Dairy, she worked at several daily and weekly newspapers throughout Western Pennsylvania covering everything from education and community news to police and courts.

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