updates with focus on community
VEVAY, Ind. (June 2007) For many Indiana small
towns and rural communities, the county fairgrounds play an integral
role in social events, and one of the biggest events in those communities
is the 4-H Fair. That is the situation in Switzerland County, Ind.,
which has recently spent close to $1 million in renovations and upgrades
for its county fairgrounds.
For many years, we existed without any money and did the best
we could with the deteriorating conditions of our buildings, said
Switzerland County Fair Board President Lane Armstrong. Prior
to the renovations, everything was run down and about to fall down.
Former Fair Board Treasurer Sherry Armstrong said the project started
back in 2000 when the board received close to $400,000 in casino money
from Belterra Casino, Resort & Spa, which is located in the county.
She said community leaders were thrilled with the opportunity to do
something about the conditions of the fairgrounds because they understood
the importance of 4-H and other organizations which use those buildings
We wanted to find a way to keep our kids involved and give them
something to be proud of, she said. Renovating the fairgrounds
and upgrading for the future was one way to do that.
Angie Satterfield, Fair Board member and project coordinator for tourism
in Switzerland County, said the surveys were sent out to community leaders
and past and present Fair Board members asking for their input on what
needed to be done.
Everyone was excited about this and we got some great ideas,
The project was broken down into four phases. In the first phase, immediate
issues such as the drainage problem at the fairgrounds and a fence around
the perimeter were addressed. Approximately $160,000 was spent in the
first phase putting in fencing, a new commercial building, a sheep barn
and shelter house, restrooms and show ring bleachers.
In the meantime, the fair board realized that more funding would be
needed to complete every aspect of the project. As the initial
funding dwindled, we started applying for small local grants, and then
as the momentum increased with the project, we began writing grant proposals
for much larger grants, said Satterfield. Everybody wants
to jump on a winning horse, and people recognized the value of what
we were doing.
Also, the board applied for a percentage of riverboat money. As organizations
saw the success of the fairgrounds project, money started coming in,
including a $162,000 Ogle Foundation grant for a new cattle and swine
Other organizations who have given grants include the County Council,
County Trustees, and the Community Foundations in the county.
The County Commissioners granted us close to $80,000 for parking
lot improvements, upgrades and blacktopping because they like what they
were seeing us do, she said.
The fair board now has moneys put aside for future repair and maintenance,
as well as 4-H scholarships for graduates and scholarship funds for
every child who wants to attend 4-H camp. We now can afford to
pay up to 75 percent of the fees to send local kids to 4-H camp,
A new exhibit hall and storage building is planned for after the Switzerland
County 4-H Fair this summer, which is always held the week of July 4.
For any other community looking to take on this kind of project, Satterfield
suggested keep an open mind and look for available local
funds. An example of how to proceed without money would be to keep track
of volunteer hours, which can be used as in kind matches
for grants that require matching funds.
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