Those who visited the Newton County Fair this summer probably noticed some construction work starting near the indoor exhibits building at the county fairgrounds.
Now, that construction is well underway with the end result, a 12,000 square-foot commercial building, scheduled to be complete by the end of September.
Bill Thogmartin, with the Newton County Agriculture and Mechanical Society, said the building is intended to replace two older fairgrounds buildings that were lost when their roofs caved in during a snowstorm a few years ago.
“It’s just going to be a multi-purpose center,” Thogmartin said of the new facility. “We’ll also rent it out for weddings and auctions, stuff like that. And, it will also be used for the fair, for the indoor exhibits and for the commercial venue.”
Thogmartin said the new building will provide a space the fair organizers have gone without each summer since losing the old buildings to a winter storm.
“It will replace that but it’s actually going to be bigger than what we had,” Thogmartin said. “About 8,000 feet of that other building was actually the maintenance building.”
Thogmartin said the difference at fair time next summer will be “night and day” with the addition of the new building.
“I think one end of it is going to be used for the youth exhibits and the other end of it is going to be for commercial exhibits,” Thogmartin said.
He said the building would have all new heat and air, which he described as a much nicer setup than what the other building had.
“This will actually have a nice heat and air unit in there, it’ll make it nice,” he said.
Because they lost the former buildings to a snowstorm, Thogmartin said the non-profit A and M Society qualified for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
He said FEMA has footed the bill for approximately $500,000 of the new building construction, with insurance money and the society’s savings paying for the rest of the nearly $750,000 job.
Thogmartin said work is being performed by crews from Branco Enterprises, of Neosho, and began just before the 2013 Newton County Fair started in July.
However, Thogmartin said the project has been a longtime coming, with work for grants and permits starting about 16 months ago.
While crews are busy at work completing the new building, Thogmartin said the Newton County A and M Society has been holding weekly meetings to keep up with the building’s progress.
“We’re meeting every week, now until it’s done, we want to make sure we’ve got all of our ducks in a row,” Thogmartin said.
He said among the new building’s features will be a sprinkler system and two overhead doors, to allow for trucks and other equipment to be driven in.
He said the new building would also be energy efficient.
With work on track to be finished in less than a month, Thogmartin said the group is now planning a grand opening for the new facility.