The 136th Fayette County Fair is quickly approaching and the fair board directors are busy with all the final details before opening day on July 20. Faith Cottrill, fair board secretary, recently spoke about the upcoming fair and what changes the public might see.
The two biggest changes are two new animal buildings. There is the new cattle barn that was built using a contribution from Will and Marjorie Braun. Their bequeath stipulated “that this money be left as a charitable donation to the Fayette County Agricultural Society to do with as the Directors deemed necessary to continue providing a first class fair,” according to Cottrill. Doug Hauke of A1 Buildings, Sardinia, and JayCar Construction, along with CT Electric, are building the cattle barn.
The other new building is the small animal building. This building was erected using joint monies from the Jean Barger Rice Trust and fund-raising activities held by the fair board, and is being built by A1 Buildings and Stewart Electric. Both buildings are 60’ by 200’ and are nearing completion.
Again this year, the fair board will have its fund-raising raffle. To the winners this year will go a 2016 Dodge Truck (Doug Marine Motors), a gater (DJ Equipment), and a 6’ by 10’ aluminum trailer with drop gate (Custom Cab), plus five winners will take home $1,000 each. If you wish to participate in this raffle, buy your tickets early. The 1,000 tickets sold out in three months last year. The winners’ names will be drawn in the Mahan Building on Sept. 19 at the raffle party. Individuals with raffle tickets get in free, others will pay $10. There will be food and a cash bar. Rock N Country will be the band for the evening. You may purchase raffle tickets from any fair board director or at the fair board office prior to or after the fair.
There are 13 members of the fair board. The third year directors are Don Melvin, Sr. Fair fine Arts; Wayne Arnold, grounds and buildings; Jim Worley, fair books; Robert Schwartz, president, derby; and Jeff Smithson, advertising.
Second year directors are Wayne Baird, cattle; Ron Burke, fine arts; Jamie May, pulls; and Greg Pettit, gate.
First year directors are Jason Langley, vice president, hogs; Travis Kelley, sound stage; Jason Gentry, pulls; and Chad Payton, cattle. (Writer’s Note: It should be noted that there are approximately 22 other positions these directors fill for the fairgrounds, however, space is limited in this article.)
Faith Cottrill, who is close to five years as secretary for the fair board, is really big on customer service. She and her staff (Betty Russell, Robin Dolphin, and Leslye Arnold) have instituted Donut Day in October for the horsemen. They created a diagram of each rental room for the renter to design how they would like the tables and chairs to be placed. Cottrill then has the grounds crew (Don Callendar and BJ Jackson) set up the room and they tear it down when the event is over. All the rooms have new PA systems and may be rented from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. Also, there are two newly remodeled bars for receptions and parties.
Then there is the newly completed Fine Arts section of the building. Some of the monies from the Braun bequeath were used for this renovation also. The new Fine Arts room has a similar look to the Mahan portion of the building with the same chandeliers and sound boards plus new restrooms. The sound boards will provide an excellent avenue to display paintings and photos entered into the fair this year, and 4-H participants will have all new outlets along the long side of the room for the cookie bake-off. Outside, Mark Payton installed a new drain and completed the new concrete entrance into the Mahan building, eliminating the dangerous bump that used to be to the right of the door.
The question arises occasionally about why the fairground rents the oval out for another derby or two when the fair is over. The answer is economic growth. And not just for the fairgrounds. Every mercantile and grocery store surrounding the fairgrounds benefits from sales when there is a derby. The hotels and fast-food restaurants all over town benefit from sales when the fairgrounds has an outdoor activity like a derby. This is how small towns stay viable. Fayette County is fortunate to have such an attractive and well used fairground.
But the directors cannot do it alone. They are grateful for the assistance they receive from county entities such as the County Engineer’s Office. Engineer Steve Luebbe sent some of his employees to prep the ground for the two new buildings and they also build the track for the truck pulls. Jim Garland and his crew tore down the old Small Animal Building. Tim Walters of Conserve Concrete poured the new floor for the Fine Arts Building and Mark Payton sealed it.
At the fair this year you will notice all the flowers that have been donated and planted to make the fairgrounds more attractive. Patchwork Gardens, McClish Greenhouses and Kile Landscaping all donated plants for around the grounds. Home Depot planted the schoolhouse yard. Patchwork Gardens, Robbin’s Village Florist, and Robin’s Nest Flowers and Gifts, all donated flowers for the Queen’s Tea this year.
Cottrill said, “ We have major excitement with all the new buildings, plants and activities at the fair this year. Ticket cost is down $5 and 4-H, Boy and Girl Scouts, and FFA students have all had their wrist bands paid for by Doug Marine Motors. The gate sponsor for this year is 5/3 Bank.”
Greg Pettit, a fair board director, said, “Through the generosity of the people in our county, we are able to do things.” According to Cottrill, the product is getting better and better. “We keep trying to make the fair experience fun for all ages.”