Volunteers move and assemble steel supports for an addition to the Warren County Fairgrounds livestock pavilion. Fair organizers said livestock exhibitors have outgrown the existing space, and will be able to use the new addition this year. 

Volunteers spent hours in the rain on Saturday, June 22, erecting steel beams and preparing for a roof to be installed on a 2,000-square-foot addition to the livestock pavilion at the Warren County Fairgrounds. Their work was made possible by more than $10,000 in donations from local families and businesses almost a year ago.

The pavilion is used by local FFA and 4-H students who raise animals to show at the Fair, beginning this year on July 2. Cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens and rabbits inhabit the pavilion throughout the week.

Paul Owenby, president of the Warren County Fair Board, said the addition is 90 percent complete and will be ready to house animals for the Fair next week. He said the construction being driven entirely by voluntary work and donations shows how the community comes together to support local youth.

“It’s an awesome example of how this community is,” Owenby commented. “They’ve overgrown their facility and needed to expand. For the Fair Board to have incurred that expense was out of our reach. (The community) stepped up to the plate and got the funds to expand that building to accommodate them.”

Near the end of last year’s county Fair, organizers told attendees at the annual livestock auction that the pavilion was at capacity, and that there were 100 animals more in 2018 than the year before. They asked anyone interested in helping with expansion plans to get in touch.

Unprompted, parents and business owners in the audience began pledging hundreds of dollars and challenging others to do the same. Many young exhibitors donated a portion of their auction proceeds to the project. By the end of the night, $11,000 in donations had been pledged to an addition. Those and other donations that came shortly thereafter have paid for the majority of the costs.

Owenby said the current costs of materials for the addition are around $17,000 to $18,000.

The livestock pavilion was originally built in 1997 to house cattle, pigs and sheep. Goats, chickens and rabbits have been added since then as the Fair grows with the times, Owenby explained.

Franci Schwartz, the livestock coordinator for the Fair, said she is planning how to best use the 2,000 square feet of extra space to house animals. The addition will allow organizers to move all of the smaller animals out of the side of the pavilion where cattle are penned, she said. Previously, exhibition rabbits were kept in cages near the cattle pens.

Schwartz commented that she hopes young exhibitors won’t take for granted how much support was needed to make the addition a reality.

“I am overwhelmed at the support that the kids are getting from the community,” she said, adding that she is grateful not only for the donations, but for the volunteers who worked hard to construct the addition.

Schwartz explained that construction might have begun sooner than a week before the Fair, except that the Fair Board was waiting for a power pole in the addition’s footprint to be moved by the electric company.

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