Vandalia council doubles down on fairgrounds rejection

The Vandalia city council again has decided to reject a proposal to relocate the Montgomery County Fairgrounds to Webster Street, according to Vice Mayor David Lewis.

This is the city’s second rejection of the project, having already passed on an earlier proposal in December.

Council members met for a special meeting Saturday to discuss the relocation of the fairgrounds.

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“It was a general consensus of the council that while the fair board made a very strong and cogent presentation before, our general thoughts were it wasn’t so much about the Montgomery County Fair as it was about having a convention center,” Lewis said. “That’s what they were proposing, based on 52 weeks a year, as opposed to just one week for the use of the fair.”

Fairgrounds officials had identified 80 acres on Webster Street, just north of the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center, as a potential new home. Montgomery County would also give the fairgrounds an additional 20 or more acres to the south.

Lewis said council members would give “different consideration” if the fair board presented a scaled-back plan that didn’t include what Lewis described as a “convention center.”

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The plans called for an Agricultural Event Center, which would host events previously held at the Airport Expo Center and Hara Arena, such as the home show, RV show, and the gun and knife show.

Council members first rejected the plan in December, but agreed to another presentation from the Montgomery County Agricultural Society, which happened Feb. 9.

This second presentation included a new incentive, with the Agricultural Society sharing a minor percentage of revenue with Vandalia if the fairgrounds were to move to the Webster Street location.

Council members voted unanimously to reject that proposal on Saturday, citing in part the continuous changes being made to the project.

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Greg Wallace, executive director of the Montgomery County Agricultural Society, on Sunday said he had not received an official notice from Vandalia city officials, adding that “all I know is they were going to continue to discuss it at their retreat.”

The Montgomery County Agricultural Society’s search for a new home for the fairgrounds has included failed attempts at sites in Brookville and Huber Heights.

The current fairgrounds on South Main Street in Dayton will be sold to the University of Dayton and Premier Health for redevelopment. The 2017 county fair is expected to be the last at the current location.

Staff writer Will Garbe contributed to this report.

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