Fair leaders unveil proposal to build Junior Fair pavilion

ARTIST’S SKETCH shows a proposed Junior Fair pavilion at the Hancock County Fairgrounds. The new steel building would replace two old, narrow wooden buildings, the youth building and the education building. The $500,000 building would be paid for by donations. (Sketch provided to The Courier)

ARTIST’S SKETCH shows a proposed Junior Fair pavilion at the Hancock County Fairgrounds. The new steel building would replace two old, narrow wooden buildings, the youth building and the education building. The $500,000 building would be paid for by donations. (Sketch provided to The Courier)

Hancock County Fair leaders today are unveiling a proposal to build a Junior Fair pavilion at the fairgrounds, a new building meant to benefit “the youth of the community.”

The $500,000 building would be paid for by donations, fair board President Tom Warren and fair Operations Manager Dave Thomas said.

“This whole fairgrounds runs on the generosity of the community,” Thomas said.

They said the new structure would provide bigger, better display space for youth projects at the fair, such as Junior Fair booths; woodworking, welding and shop projects; art and sewing. It also would provide a place for youth gatherings and meetings during the fair and at other times.

“We want to build a building that will serve the youth of the community in a more efficient way,” Warren said.

The 2014 edition of the fair opens today and continues through Labor Day. The building proposal will be announced during the fair’s opening ceremonies tonight.

Large drawings of the proposed building are on display in two places at the fairgrounds: in front of the senior fair office, and in the Grange Building.

The project will only go forward if enough donations are received, Warren and Thomas said.

The Junior Fair pavilion would replace two long, narrow buildings at the fairgrounds, the youth building and the education building. Both of the old buildings will be in use during this week’s fair, but Thomas and Warren said they need to be replaced with a modern structure.

The old wooden buildings “will need a lot of repair” in the near future, Thomas said. One of them was moved to the fairgrounds in the 1930s, he said. The other is from the same era.

The Junior Fair pavilion would be built on the spots now occupied by the youth and education buildings, and would be larger than those two buildings combined.

Thomas said fair leaders would like to construct a building with 11,200 square feet, which would include restrooms, heating, and good ventilation.

The building would have a steel structure and steel siding. It would be a “free-span” building with no support posts in the middle.

Outside the building, fair leaders envision a roofed, but open area on one side that could be a spot for demonstrations, displays, and a place for fairgoers to rest.

In addition to housing youth displays and projects during the fair, the new building could be used for youth meetings and gatherings at other times of the year, and for wedding receptions, Thomas said.

The current youth building and education building cover a total of 9,300 square feet. They are long and narrow structures, and their shapes make it difficult to display youth projects, the fair leaders said.

The youth building, 34 feet wide and 150 feet long, will house the booths of youth organizations during this week’s fair.

The education building, 32 feet wide and 132 feet long, will house “still projects” during the fair, such as sewing, woodworking, welding, and art.

The fair board has talked about constructing a new building for young people for several years, Warren and Thomas said.

People with questions about the building proposal, or who want to make donations, are being asked to contact Thomas at the senior fair office.

The proposal for a Junior Fair pavilion comes on the heels of another building project completed last year at the fairgrounds.

The 21,000-square-foot Legacy Pavilion, a livestock building, was constructed after a windstorm destroyed the steer barn at the fairgrounds. The fair board decided to also replace the sheep and rabbit buildings.

The Legacy Pavilion houses rabbits, goats and sheep during the fair. Steers were moved to the Buckeye Building.

Insurance money paid for constructing the Legacy building, which cost more than $500,000. The fair board has no debt on the Legacy building.

Naming rights were purchased by Legacy Farmers Cooperative. That money is used for fairgrounds improvements, Thomas said.

The Legacy building is being rented for receptions and other gatherings during other times of the year, Thomas said.

The Buckeye Building, which houses both market beef and dairy feeders during the fair, was expanded both last year and this year. The building is roofed, but has open sides.

Two additions to the roof were built prior to this year’s fair: A 30-foot by 120-foot expansion on the northwest side, and a 30-foot by 90-foot expansion at the southeast corner.

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