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County, others should have say in fairgrounds improvement

My Opinion
Ross Schulz, Staff Writer

The Harrison County Board of Commissioners and Council should vote to approve the $25,000 request from the Harrison Agriculture Society, better known as the fair board, so it can begin the process of saving money for grandstand replacement and have money on hand for other activities throughout the year.
As fair board member, and commissioner, Carl (Buck) Mathes said, the seven-member volunteer fair board is pretty burnt out after the fair and is unable to advertise the fairgrounds for any other events throughout the year.
Some folks have described the grandstand structure as an embarrassment, disgrace and liability to the county. And it’s not like the grandstand isn’t used; the seats are often packed for demolition derby nights during the fair and a good number of folks watch the harness racing from the stands. If the stands were deemed unsafe at any point near fair week, it would be a major blow to attendance and revenue.
While the grandstand is the main issues, it’s not the only area needing improvement. Barns and buildings not associated with 4-H (4-H receives riverboat revenue on a yearly basis) could use a facelift, as well.
The funding also would help draw other events to the fairgrounds throughout the year, which, in turn, would increase revenue that could be used to improve the fairgrounds further.
The list of agencies county government supplies with riverboat gaming funds is endless, many of which are well above the $25,000 requested from the fair board.
Some of the funding could, if it would be the fair board’s wish, go toward lowering admissions for Harrison Countians. Many residents, in this newspaper’s LiveWire section and feedback submissions, have expressed their displeasure with the cost of admission and extra cost to enter the grandstand.
This might be difficult to do, however, since the fair board, for the most part, loses money each year on the Harrison County Fair.
The fair board also should look to save funds to build an air-conditioned building near the grandstand. It always seems the Harrison County Fair and the hottest week of the year check each other’s schedules to be sure they hit Corydon at the same time.
The riverboat revenue is capped and every year the amount stretches less and less for county services, but the Harrison County Fair is an event that showcases the best of the county and there’s no reason county government can’t budget funding for it.