Fair Board considers options to replace or restore collapsed barn
After a weary winter that saw record numbers of snowfall, the Steele County Fairgrounds was left with a collapsed cattle barn. The barn was traditionally used by 4-H members to show their livestock and will need to be either restored or replaced before this year’s fair in August.
At this month’s board of directors meeting, Fair Manager Scott Kozelka informed the board of the $137,940 estimate received from the insurance adjuster. The fair has already been given $63,700 of that estimate in advance to begin work on the barn.
Two estimates were already received by the fair in order to fix the dilapidated barn, this includes a low bid of $78,000 from the same company that built the Radel Pavilion. If the board were to go this route, they could essentially save the remainder of the insurance money for future endeavors.
While they have options, including repairing the collapsed roof and barn, or demolishing the building and replacing it, the fair will have two years to complete any replacement if they go that route. There is also the matter of a second old barn, which was not damaged during the winter season but is of a similar age as the collapsed barn.
Many on the board felt that the best option would be to replace both buildings, rather than simply repairing the damaged one. This would give any newly constructed barn a much more uniform look with the much newer Radel Pavilion and would allow for better offseason rental opportunities.
The board looked over the master plan set in place for the future of the fair and fairgrounds and felt that a new barn would not necessarily have to be as large as the Radel Pavilion, but that it could be somewhere near it in size.
“We already have a ‘Cadillac’ building,” director Jim Abbe said of the Radel Pavilion. “I am in favor of building a new building that looks like it so it matches the aesthetics and it meets the needs of the cattle group. We don’t need another Cadillac, but we could at least have a Chevy.”
Although there were no decisions made during the meeting, the board did seem to be trending towards the decision to replace both old cattle barns in one fell swoop and upgrade them into a single, larger building before the fair gets underway this August.
Kozelka suggested to the board that he would seek out estimates for a new building and get back to the board in a special meeting later this month. He will also look at estimates for demolishing both of the older barns.
With the fair slowly but steadily approaching, Kozelka and the directors will have to move fast on any decision they make and be sure that construction can be completed in time for this year’s fair. The fair is currently scheduled Aug. 13-18.
During the meeting the board of directors also gave updates on sponsorship, grandstand events, and the Beer Garden lineup. “We’re ahead of the game in sponsorships,” Kozelka said. “We have some new sponsors this year and we’ve increased others.” Kozelka also mentioned they will continue to work closely with Sen. John Jasinski moving forward.
With a little over four months to go before the fair, the board will keep steering the ship and do its best to prepare for the largest free fair in the state.