Big fair, big plans.
Elkhart County 4-H Fair officials are always looking ahead to what’s next for the fairgrounds and the annual summer festival. Among them is Tim Yoder, 2014 fair president.
Yoder recently outlined several projects he hopes will be completed by the time next summer’s fair rolls around. The list includes additional restrooms, an emergency broadcasting system and improvements to the “wing” bleachers at the grandstands.
Yoder said plans call for a new restroom in the area of the 3-on-3 basketball courts and Young McDonald’s Farm. Another restroom would be located in the area of Gate G north of the track. Yoder estimated the cost for both at around $500,000, saying that’s a preliminary figure.
“...If you listen to comments back from our guests, the folks who come to the fair, that’s something we hear over and over — we need some restrooms,” Yoder said. “We’re lacking in that.” The fair’s existing restroom facility is located just west of the grandstand seating.
Fair officials are also targeting the wing bleachers on the north and south sides of the main grandstands for an upgrade. Yoder said the idea is for the wings to be elevated, with space for storage and merchandising underneath.
One benefit is that audience members would be better able to see what’s happening on the stage and on the track, Yoder indicated. More seating in the wings is also part of the plan. Yoder estimated the cost of the improvements at around $380,000.
Also in the works is an emergency broadcasting system, with a preliminary price tag of around $70,000.
“We have so many year-round events (at the fairgrounds) that we could use this year-round, and during the fair we could actually have this become a paging system...” Yoder said. “It definitely would upgrade our safety.”