Montgomery County Fair: Nothing but ‘odds and ends’ at Dayton location by end of month

By the end of this month, just about the only thing left in Dayton of the Montgomery County Fair along South Main Street will be the memories.

“We’re right on schedule,” said John Yancik, the fair board president. “We’ll have everything out by April 1 except for a couple of odds and ends.”

RELATED: Montgomery County Fair officials to break ground at new location

At the first of April, the Montgomery County Agricultural Society Board will begin operations in an office on the edge of Arthur O. Fisher Park about six miles west of its home of 165 years.

Fair employees and board members are spending the weekends loading trucks and carting cages, pens and risers to Jefferson Twp. where two new buildings are well on the way to forming the hub of the new Montgomery County Fairgrounds & Event Center.

“We will be vacating the property (in Dayton) and totally relocating our operation,” said Greg Wallace, Montgomery County Fair executive director. “We have all kinds of stuff for a fair — you name it, we have it.”

MORE: Montgomery County Fairgrounds grandstand seats final crowd

The two, two-part historic cast aluminum reliefs created by the late Dayton sculptor Robert C. Koepnick were taken down last weekend from the old fairgrounds gate across from Miami Valley Hospital, Wallace said. The sculptures depicting agricultural life will be reused on the entrance gate to the new 150-acre site.

The fair’s office as well as Montgomery County’s Ohio State University Extension office will be sharing space in the nearby Calumet Center at 580 Calumet Lane.

The first two buildings, a 30,000-square-foot main event center and a smaller exhibition hall, are already covered and will soon be weather tight, making outdoor conditions less a factor in building delays, Wallace said.

“We have really been fortunate,” he said. “The rain came when we had buildings under roof.”

The two buildings will be climate controlled, allowing the facility to attract events year-round, Yancik said.

RELATED: Year-round events planned for new fairgrounds site

The first county fair at the new site is July 9-15. Wallace said not everything hoped to be completed at the 645 Infirmary Road site will be done by the middle of July.

All of the paving probably won’t be complete. But we will have gravel in place of paving.”

The new site is designed to accommodate up to 1,500 vehicles, 900 more than the Dayton fairgrounds. Up to 500 parking spots will eventually be on asphalt, according to a plan unveiled last July.

Wallace said nature’s help with a good stand of grass by July will be “crucial” for the first fair.

Yancik said the $15 million first-phase funding will stretch to complete the first two buildings, a campsite, parking and pay for the underground utilities for future buildings to be built in later stages. The fair’s initial plan called for eight structures, including a grandstand. The fair board, which is seeking sponsers to help build a permanent grandstand, will use temporary seating for events in July. A number of tents will be used for other activities, he said.

Construction on the new fairgrounds began in August with the role of general contractor jointly assumed by the Montgomery County Transportation Improvement District and the Agricultural Society Board.

Premier Health and the University of Dayton finalized the purchase of the 38-acre Dayton site last April. The purchase price was $15 million, of which UD and Premier each agreed to pay $5.25 million.

Montgomery County is giving the institutions $2 million to restore and reuse the historic roundhouse.

The Dayton-Montgomery County Port Authority is contributing a $2.5 million state grant to revitalization efforts.

In January, the partners presented a preliminary vision to the community that could include mixed-income housing, public spaces like plazas and keep the historic wood Roundhouse as a focal point.

MORE: Early vision for former fairgrounds released

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