Posted on

‘Positive things’ happening at Fairgrounds

‘Positive things’ happening at Fairgrounds
‘Positive things’ happening at Fairgrounds
Demolition of the 4-H show barn, above, at the Harrison County Fairgrounds was completed last weekend. Submitted photo

Improvements to the Harrison County Fairgrounds got underway earlier this month with the demolition of the show barn, which was built in the late 1960s. The new show barn will be more than twice the size of the old one that butts up to the swine barn on the north end of the fairgrounds.
James L. Shireman Inc. ‘will be starting this week or next on the construction, I expect,’ Tim Harmon, president of the Harrison County 4-H Council, said yesterday (Tuesday).
The project will cost $330,000; that’s $183,000 less than what was anticipated.
Since funding ‘ $345,000 approved by the Harrison County Council and $168,000 from the Harrison County Community Foundation ‘ for the project was more than what was needed, the 4-H Council was given the OK to apply the remaining funds to purchase bleachers, gates and fencing for the show barn as well as paying the bill to complete needed utility changes at the fairgrounds in south Corydon.
‘We are greatly appreciative for the leaders of Harrison County Government and the community foundation for their financial support,’ Harmon said.
Todd Uhl, immediate past board president of the Harrison County Agricultural Society, which owns the approximate 36.2 acres where the fairgrounds is located, said the new show barn will be ‘very nice.’
He said the old structure, at 60 feet by 72 feet, had become crowded as the Harrison County livestock numbers remain constant despite declining in other counties.
Uhl said he expects regional livestock shows to take place here with the completion of the 140-by-72-foot structure.
‘That will bring other money into the county as well,’ he said.
And other improvements planned by the Ag Society also should generate more use of the fairgrounds, home to the ‘oldest continuous county fair’ in the state, dating back to September 1860.
The new show barn is expected to be complete in time for this year’s fair (the 4-H Fair will be July 11 through 16 with the Harrison County Fair running July 12 through 18).
Immediately after the county fair, work will begin on another building, the Talmage Windell Memorial Agricultural Building.
It will replace the Merchants Building and the silver pole barn directly north of that building.
‘It will basically be the same footprint,’ Uhl said of the 20,000-square-foot building that will be air conditioned and include rest rooms.
Work on that project, with funding from a $2 million grant from the HCCF and a $75,000 gift from the estate of Rita Windell, is expected to be complete by the time the fair rolls around again in 2016.
Uhl doesn’t anticipate any problems with other events, such as the Harness Racing and Wine Tasting in late September, taking place during the construction of the new facility. He also stressed that the new structure will be available for rent by individuals and groups.
‘It really will be a good community building,’ he said.
The Ag Society anticipates the building will serve the Southern Indiana region, not just Harrison County.
This is part of the master plan that the Ag Society is using following a study by the New Albany architectural firm of Michell Timperman Ritz.
Uhl said the fair board ‘stepped back’ to look at a long-term plan for the fairgrounds ‘if money was not an issue.’
‘The fairgrounds is used quite a bit,’ including by other nonprofit groups, Uhl said.
Other projects to be completed in the near future include improvements to the fairgrounds at the Capitol Avenue entrance.
Uhl, who is serving a four-year term on the Indiana State Fair board, said a grant from the Indiana Horse Racing Commission would help pay for that improvement.
The IHRC sees the fairgrounds here, complete with a dirt track, as a year-round facility where horse owners can train 365 days a year, he said.
The fair office, located underneath the grandstand’s south end, will get a makeover both inside and out, Uhl said.
One aspect of the fairgrounds that still needs to be addressed is the grandstand, which was purchased in 1961 and moved from a minor league baseball park in Louisville to its current location. The study suggested a structural review of the grandstand, which can seat about 3,000 people, before doing any renovations, which could include repairing or replacing the room; repairing or replacing the bleacher’s concrete decking; removing rust from the steel structure then sanding and repainting it; installing new gutters on the backside of the grandstand, which would help keep water off Homecomers Hall; and patching, repairing and painting the walls underneath the grandstand.
Uhl called this ‘exciting times’ for the Society, which also has its first female board member, Carla Clunie, who has spearheaded the change of the Ag Society from a stockholders’ group to a nonprofit, membership group. (It was discovered late last year the group no longer met state requirements to be a stockholders’ organization.)
Membership is now open to the Harrison County Agricultural Society. Dues are $25 per person per year, which includes a pass good for daily entry to the fair (it does not include admission to the Midway rides).
‘If you come to the fair 2-1/2 days, it pays for itself,’ Uhl said.
To join, mail a $25 check, payable to the HCAS, along with a membership form (available at the fair office, from any Ag Society board member and the fair board’s website and Facebook page) to: P.O. Box 84, Corydon, IN 47112.
Membership also allows those 18 and older a vote during the Ag Society’s annual meeting each November.
For more information about membership, call 812-267-7470 or 812-267-7471.
‘We have the best board we’ve ever had,’ Uhl said. ‘We think there’s lots of positive things going on.’