Miami County fair wraps up big year, prepares for big changes

$9 million project about to begin will repair grandstand, construct new “all-in-one” building

TROY — By the time the 2023 Miami County Fair rolls around, the grandstand and the secretary building/fair office, the annual event’s headquarters, will have an updated look.

As this year’s fair with possible record crowds came to a close Thursday, Aug. 18, work on another large event — renovations to the 1916 grandstand and construction of an all-in-one administrative/exhibit building to include the fair office — is about to get underway.

Those visiting the fair were given a peek at the renderings for the grandstand’s new look and the new building concept that were on display.

The county is working with Chris Widener and staff at WDC Group of Springfield on both projects. Advertising for bids on the grandstand work was authorized Thursday, while bidding for the new building is expected to be approved within a month.

The estimated cost at this time for the grandstand project is around $2.7 million, while the all-in-one building estimated cost is approximately $6.4 million.

The bid will be for grandstand masonry repairs, roof work and structural updates.

It also will include four alternate projects that could be added to the work, if funding allows. The decision could be made to do all the alternates, some or none. The alternates include grandstand restroom renovations, speed office cleanup/fix up, asphalt work to the area east of the grandstand/midway and storm drainage work.

The bid documents include detailed photos of the condition of the grandstand for bidder information, Widener said.

Those photos, included on boards being displayed at the Safety Building, show the “lots and lots of needs” at the grandstand, said Miami County Commissioner Greg Simmons. “It is something we have to get done.”

The commission has made a commitment to upgrade facilities that are in dire need, said Commission President Ted Mercer. “As you can see in some of those pictures, we are in a safety position” at this point, he said, referring to grandstand photos.

The all-in-one building will house the fair administrative offices, along with agencies including Farm Bureau, Soil and Water Conservation District, Farm Service Agency and the Ohio State University Miami County Extension Office.

The initial plan was to build on the site of the current fair/secretary’s office, but underground utilities got in the way, Widener said. The building instead will be placed further north, requiring the removal of the Art Hall and the Cove Springs Grange building. The secretary’s office, also dating to the early 1900s, will be kept and a new use found.

The all-in-one building will include public restrooms, exhibit hall, a community hall to seat up to 300, kitchen and offices for the various agencies.

The two buildings project, Widener said, “Is going to be game changer for the fairgrounds.”

The deteriorating condition of the fairgrounds and some buildings has been talked about for years. For several years, the county commissioners paid for paving the grounds.

The current project has been in the works for more than a year, with funding to come primarily from county reserves and the county’s American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, funds. The county this year received $10 million from ARPA, with another $10 million planned in the second year.

The county Agricultural Society, also known as the fair board, has few funds to help with the project, said Nick Shellenberger, fair manager and fair board president.

However, it is working on in-kind donations from companies willing to assist with the projects, he said.

“We are thrilled the projects are moving forward,” Shellenberger said,

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