Fair board ready to raise the roof

(Posted July 14, 2016)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

With support from the county commissioners, the Madison County senior fair board is galloping ahead with its newest building project.

On July 11, the commissioners approved a two-for-one match to fund construction of a roof over the horse arena at the county fairgrounds. For every private dollar donated to the project, the county will match two dollars, up to $250,000. The county provided the same two-for-one deal for other recent fairgrounds improvements, including construction of the new youth arena, community center, and hog barn.

“We’ve been very impressed with the success of the senior fair board and what they have been able to do with past projects,” said Paul Gross, commissioner. “When you see something that’s working, you want to do more of it.”

Duane Powell, a senior fair board member whose focus is the equine area, said the estimated cost to put a roof over the horse arena is $350,000 to $375,000. That means the fair board’s one-third share of the cost will be roughly $125,000. Equine supporters have already raised $50,000 through rail fencing sponsorships and other donations.

“Our goal is to get it done by next year’s fair,” Powell said.

The plan calls for a roof only, no sides. This will keep construction costs down, but still represent a big improvement to the facility. The project will benefit not only youths during fair week, but also make the facility more marketable to organizations looking to rent space for shows and clinics other times of the year.

Powell said the roof-only option should position the facility to compete well for rentals at a certain price point. Too much competition already exists in the area for completely enclosed horse arenas, he said, pointing to facilities in Columbus, Springfield and Wilmington.

In addition to the roof project, the equine area also is getting new permanent stalls. Fair board officials received word three days before this year’s fair that they received a $50,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Agriculture for the project.

The grant required a $50,000 match for improvements elsewhere on the fairgrounds. Bryan Dhume, county engineer, is providing that in the form of materials and in-kind labor by installing drainage and blacktop at various points on the grounds.

Powell said the fair board rents temporary stalls each year to accommodate the nearly 100 equine projects brought to the grounds for fair week. The new permanent stalls will eliminate the yearly rental fee and set-up and teardown labor. They’ll also serve as another source of revenue. The fair board can reap a percentage of stall rental fees charged by organizations using the horse arena for events.

“We can put that money back into rehabbing our other barns in the equine area,” Powell said.

He estimates the project will yield 45 to 50 stalls. The plan is to purchase materials in August or September and start construction soon after. Stall naming rights are available at $1,000 each.

For a donation form to sponsor a stall or a rail on the horse arena fence or to make a general donation to the equine facility, contact Duane Powell at towell4@columbus.rr.com.

Donation checks can be made out to “MCJFSC Building Fund” and mailed to: Duane Powell, 205 Taylor Blair Road, West Jefferson.

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