Gibson County Fair Board members say, it's time to upgrade the largest attraction in the county.
When the fair comes to town, Gibson County Board Members say, all the lights, rides, and people can hide a problem that lies beneath. Wear and tear have developed at the county fairgrounds over the decades. "There's people around it and signs, and you think oh, it looks ok. When you look at it, bare bones, there's a lot of problems. There's some issues," says Project Manager and fair board member, Jeff Clark. "It's all we can do to get past the Fire Marshall and Health Department, because they are old facilities and they are run down," says John Feutz with the fair board.
The Gibson County Fair Board says now is the time to make some big improvements to the grounds with a proposed 8.6 million dollar project. 1.6 of the project, is earmarked for infrastructure upgrades on water, sewer, and electrical projects. The other part of that project, five new structures, built to help serve the community all months of the year.
"We have more events year round than people realize, so it's a year round facility. This part of the property wasn't. It was dated and it needs to be upgraded to be year round," says Clark.
A new 4-H center, and two new event centers are just some of the buildings the board says could serve numerous non profit and charitable organizations. They will replace some fifty year old booths that currently reside on the grounds. This week the board went in front of Gibson County Commissioners to try to move the project forward.
Since then, they have received around a dozen letters of support and people in the community backing the project. "It surprised me how many people will call you, or come up to you. It's been very, very positive," says Clark.
Aside from the new event centers and updates, this project could serve one more major purpose to the people of Gibson County in a time of emergency. "This project has a twenty-five thousand dollar power diverter in it, because if there is a natural disaster, the area that people come to firs,t is the fairgrounds," says Clark.
The board says, either way, it's a project aimed towards improvement, not change, all to better Gibson County twelve months out of the year. "People that have always enjoyed the county fair, it's not going to make it a different experience, it's going to make it a better experience," says Feutz.
The fair board still has several hurdles to get over before this project can break ground. They are seeking funding from the Patoka-Union Twp. (Toyota) TIF district. and other funding sources in the upcoming weeks.
The board hopes to have the project complete in 2015, by fair time.