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Visionaries share ideas for fairgrounds

Improvements and ideas were thrown around by many people last Wednesday night at the Fairgrounds Expansion Planning Workshop. About 60 interested Harrison Countians gathered at Corydon Presbyterian Church to discuss the state of the Harrison County Fairgrounds in Corydon.
‘We wanted to make sure you had the opportunity to share your advice with us,’ said Don Anderson, project advisor. ‘What are our challenges; where do we see ourselves in 2020.’
Anderson explained that they will look at other fairgrounds and events to compare, while still doing it ‘our way.’ The goal of the study and project is to gain more attendance, more events, more of an allure to the county and some type of facility for large events, such as birthdays, weddings and other celebrations.
Anderson lined out the key accomplishments made by the fair board and the fairgrounds. The Harrison County Fair is the oldest, continuously operating fair in the state. It is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit foundation with stockholders. The fair has a strong volunteer corps ‘ more than 500 people. Its focus is on agri-heritage and family activities, big values in Harrison County. The fairgrounds has horse boarding and training year-round. The fair has harness racing and one of the largest livestock shows in the state.
‘It’s great to have a track record like that; you must be doing something right,’ said Anderson. ‘You should be pretty proud of how you have developed over the years.’
Anderson said he hopes the improvements will ‘tell the story’ of the community and county. The agricultural background of this area is something that could draw others in, he said.
With discussion open to the audience, Anderson asked about the challenges facing the project. Topping the list were maintenance of the buildings, preserving the history of Homecomer Hall, safety of the grandstands, a need for more rest rooms, handicap accessibility and parking. Leakage in the facilities is also an issue.
The audience was then split into groups to discuss what they would like to see by 2020. Some of the events seen while gazing into the crystal ball were big-name concerts, which would involve an amphitheater and new grandstands, and year-round events nearly every weekend. Currently, the fairgrounds are used 22 days of the year in addition to the eight-day county fair. A large multi-purpose building is also a must, according to those in attendance.
One aspect Anderson said he would not change is the small county fair atmosphere visitors enjoy. Visitors from out of the county are of importance to him, he said.
‘We’ve got to make it easy for them, so they’ll tell other people and come back,’ Anderson said.
Anderson said they will look at the common themes discussed at the meeting and other unique ideas for Harrison County.
Last week’s public meeting was the beginning of a three- to four-month study. Anderson said they will report back to the community in late November.