County plans 4-H building at fairgrounds

Stark County Fairgrounds

Stark County is planning to build a dedicated 4-H facility at the county fairgrounds.

The county’s youths currently meet in four different buildings for 4-H activities, fairgrounds manager Lisa Heiser explained.

“When they have their 4-H Achievement Days, when they put on their horse show, and show their cattle and pigs, they have to be in all different areas to do it,” Heiser said. “By separating them, it isn’t as good for a group as it should be.”

She added, “We want to try and consolidate some of that and give them a more usable facility, so they can do everything in one.”

A facility is needed, Dustin Elkins, Stark County Fair Association vice president, said.

“These kids will be able to have the whole fair in one location rather than being spread across two or three different places around town during that week,” he said. “I’m excited.”

Key to the project is leveling a hill at the fairgrounds.

“On the northwest side of the property there’s a big hill with about 380,000 cubic yards of dirt,” Heiser said.

The project has received donations from county and area dirt removal contractors.

Some work has already been done.

“Schwartz Construction was the first to step up and donate to move 100,00 cubic yards of that dirt,” Heiser said, “and Martin Construction has followed suit with 100,000.”

Three other contractors have committed to aid the project, but wet weather in late September caused delays.

“They were supposed to, after our last event, go in and just level the hill and get everything down,” Heiser said. “When the contractors are ready to go, we’ll be ready to go as well.”

Heiser expects the project to start construction in 2020, with completion in 2021.

“Certainly things can happen faster,” she said. “I’m always an optimistic person. I think, ‘we’re going to be open before snow flies next year,’ and that’s what I’d love to see.”

She added, “I’ve gotten verbal support from other committee members saying they want that 4-H building to be a go, so it’s likely that it’ll happen sooner than later.”

A total cost for the project has not yet been identified, Heiser said.

The committee is currently readying for the design phase.

“We’ve asked our vice president and he’s provided some data on how many people are in the 4-H, how many static exhibits they have, and the different areas they need,” she said. “We want to make sure we understand fully what their needs are, before we design a facility for them that doesn’t work.”

The design will allow for add-ons.

“It costs a little more to do with a building like that, but having that ability for future growth, I think, is going to be very important in that facility,” Heiser said.

The second phase of project is expected to be an indoor riding arena.

“People have been asking for that for a while,” Heiser said. “It’s going to be exciting to see how that comes along.”

Elkins said he is excited to see the project progress.

“We need to get that hill gone so we know what we’ve got to work with as far as space to build,” he said, “and make sure we’re always planning ahead for future expansion.”