SALEM, Ohio — When fairgoers arrive at the Wayne County Fair this year, they will see two new buildings.
While their price tag ended up being double what was originally estimated, both buildings will be better suited for year-round use. The original plan was for warm-weather fair buildings, but community feedback about the need for more event space led to the changes, according to fair planners.
A change of plans
The original plan, which had a budget of $1.8 million, was to construct two buildings to be used only during the fair. The new plan, with an almost-doubled budget of $3.4 million, was to construct the two buildings, a 26,100-square-foot event center and a 14,080-square-foot hog barn, but make them year-round facilities to rent out for events beyond the fair.
Fair board manager Matt Martin said the project, which broke ground last fall, was out to bid during fair time last year.
The event center will include heating and air conditioning, new bleachers, a sprinkler system and a warming kitchen.
The decision to make the event center a year-round building was based largely on community input.
“After soliciting funds, many local people and businesses we talked with … felt that it would be nice to make it a year-round facility because of the loss of a couple of event centers in the area,” said Mike Kinney, fair board president.
He believes knowing the new buildings would benefit the community year-round drove many businesses and individuals to donate more than they might have if the buildings were only designed to be used during the fair.
During the fair, the event center will have two show rings for events ranging from the swine show to the kiddie tractor pull, and will house rabbits and poultry. The building will also host the livestock auction for all animals, which was previously split up into two locations.
The hog barn will be usable for other events and shows most of the year, but will not have heat for the winter. The goats will be housed in the old swine building, which is large enough that they will not be crowded or need additional tents, as they have in the past.
Still on track
Money from a fundraiser the fair ran last year and additional loans the fair board took out will pay for the project.
While the fair board took out 20-year loans, Kinney is hopeful that the board will be able to pay the loans back within 10 years. He expects the facility to generate enough income to cover the payments once it is ready to be rented out.
Despite plan changes, the project is still about a week ahead of schedule on construction.
Several fair board members traveled out-of-state to visit similar facilities before starting construction. Many of these facilities offered information on details like keeping facilities clean when hosting livestock events and other events like dinners.
Martin said the fair has already received calls from people interested in renting the building when it is ready.
The board also has a committee working on marketing and determining the rental cost. The group plans to work with Main Street Wooster, the Wayne County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and the Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce on promotion and marketing as they prepare to start renting out the facilities.
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