Columbiana County Fairgrounds beef complex edges closer to reality

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LISBON, Ohio – Beef showmen have high hopes to be the first to use a new showring complex on the Columbiana County fairgrounds for the 2004 fair.

But money is holding back building progress.

The committee in charge of the complex has stepped up fund-raising to get the new facility in place in time for the fair.

Donations. Since the close of the 2003 fair, donors have given $23,215, and another $1,500 is on its way to the books, according to committee treasurer Lynnelle Thompson.

So far, the balance has come from beef exhibitors, 4-H alumni and local businesses.

But nothing will happen until the committee has amassed at least $75,000.

“People are maybe reluctant to donate, thinking ‘is this going to happen?’,” said John Hively, a committee member.

“It is going to happen. We’ve had a great response, but we’re not there yet,” he said.

Donation materials were mailed in November to area farmers and others involved in agricultural activities.

The committee met with a grant writer last week for help finding local, state or federal money for the project.

What’s planned. “This will probably be the greatest asset to the fairgrounds ever,” Hively said.

A 80-by-260 foot clear span steel building featuring a 40-by-60 foot showring is planned.

It will sit on the current site of 75-year-old 4-H beef and open class sheep barns on the northeast corner of the fairgrounds. Both facilities desperately need repairs.

The committee has pledged to raise at least $75,000 toward the new complex before the old barns topple.

Equipment use and personnel for the demolition have been donated, according to Steve Skrinjar, also a committeeman.

The new structure will cost roughly $106,000. Complete with electricity and interior improvements – gates, panels, and other necessities – the facility is estimated to cost $130,000.

The committee set its goal at $150,000 to include costs of restrooms, office and storage space and wash facilities.

Multipurpose. The multipurpose building is also suitable for farmers’ markets, car shows, horse riding clinics and other events throughout the year.

“Whatever we use this for will take us from one week a year to year-round,” said committee member Paul Lease.

Facelift. The new facility would offer a facelift to the Saltwell Road fairgrounds entrance.

Excavation work will level the site where the barns currently sit. The barn will also push back the fairgrounds’ boundary fence toward the campgrounds and allow the midway to be widened.

The building would house 4-H project steers and all open class beef. No tents will be used to house beef animals as in previous years.

New homes. Open class sheep, as well as 4-H dairy beef feeders currently housed in the steer barn, will move to the back side of the existing open class beef barn, according to the committee.

The complex would also add a second show and sale ring to the fairgrounds and would free the existing coliseum for other uses during fair week.

Convenience. The new complex has safety and convenience built in.

Showmen will be under cover at all times, and 4-H members won’t have to walk through thunderstorms on their way to the show or sale ring, according to Steve Skrinjar.

He also said showing in the same building would cut back on kids being dragged across the fairgrounds by unruly animals and eliminate animals on the midway.

Help out. “We don’t want to dream too far, but this fairgrounds needs a dream like this,” John Hively said.

“If it doesn’t happen this year, it won’t dampen our spirits. The sooner the better, but this will happen,” he vowed.

The Building for Tomorrow beef complex project is undertaken by members of the Columbiana County Fair, 4-H and Columbiana-Mahoning Cattlemen’s Association.

Naming opportunities are available for the facility. All donors will be recognized.

For more information, call committee treasurer Lynnelle Thompson at 330-424-5484.

(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at amyers@farmanddairy.com.)

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