projects under way
at Jefferson County Fairgrounds
board plans additional
upgrades in the coming years
(April 2012) If asked to name the highlight
event of the summer, many Jefferson County residents would say the 4-H
fair. The Jefferson County Fair and 4-H Program enjoys a state-wide
reputation as one of the most successful county fairs especially
when it comes to community involvement.
While other counties struggle to find volunteers or to fund programs,
Jefferson County enjoys wide volunteer support and donations of both
physical work and money. With the demand for facilities outgrowing the
available space, the fair board last year launched a fundraising drive
to raise money to build new structures at the fairgrounds.
photo by Lela Bradshaw
began last year
on new buildings at the Jefferson
County, Ind., Fairgrounds.
We feel this building project will assure the sustainability
of the 4-H programs and the annual county fair by addressing key issues
facing our organization today, said Scott Hubbard, Jefferson County
4-H Fair Board president.
This spring the fair board will finalize construction on Merchants Building
1 and begin construction on Merchants Building 2. The new facilities
will offer more space and comfort for vendors during the fair as well
as updated facilities for community use the rest of the year. Board
members are hoping the project will be finished by fair time in early
In the early years, 4-H participants exhibited projects at schools and
held a camp at Hanover College Campus. In 1951, Emerson Harrell guided
the fair board to purchase the current fairgrounds property for
only $5,000. Community members chipped in money and labor to construct
the current buildings. Though the buildings have served well, the cost
of maintenance overwhelms current budgets.
Hubbard and his board developed a plan for replacing the current
buildings with newer versions that will be easier to maintain, provide
us with the ability to improve the fair week experience, and most importantly
allow us to use the facilities in the off-season to generate new programs
The plan set replacing Merchant Buildings 1 and 2 as the first priorities.
In future years, the board will move to renovate the Community Building,
the Midway restrooms, the show arena roof, and finally replace the exhibit
hall. Total cost for the Capital Improvement Projects will be $235,000.
Lonnie Mason, Jefferson County Extension Educator, says the construction
for Merchant Building 1 is nearly complete. The new building features
higher ceilings complete with fans, which meant the building was about
15 degrees cooler than the older version last summer a welcome
relief for vendors and visitors alike at fair time.
More than 30,000 people attend the fair each summer. Though they come
to sample a fish sandwich or blueberry doughnut, ride the Midway, or
visit with neighbors the prime attraction remains the 4-H
projects. More than 500 youths and 100 adult volunteers participate
and exhibit projects each year.
Hubbard notes that the projects not only teach students to care for
a lamb or build an electric circuit board, they also build life skills,
such as planning, hard work, dependability, sportsmanship and financial
Vendors also use fair week to educate the public regarding their services
and products. Non-profit organizations likewise take advantage of the
opportunity to raise funds at during fair week for projects throughout
the year. New, larger facilities will enable all these opportunities
to expand. More space will make the facilities more user friendly which
Hubbard hopes will lead to increased attendance at all events.
Hubbard also hopes the facilities will draw more outside events. Last
year, the fairgrounds played host to family graduation parties, auctions,
corporate picnics and school fairs. The fairgrounds served as a polling
station, played host to Ag Day for local schools and held bluegrass
music festivals each month.
As the board updates its facilities, board members say they hope to
expand to more events year-round to build revenue for future fair projects.
The unheated buildings will offer space for gatherings from early spring
through the fall. Though spring has just begun, Hubbard said he already
looks forward to fair time and all the opportunities building through
the construction at the fairgrounds.
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