Public input sought on county fair changes

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Adams County officials say next year’s county fair could be facing some of its first changes in nearly a decade to ensure the longtime tradition remains viable and successful among residents, vendors and 4-H participants.

Adams County Co-Fair Manager Melanie Snodell said the proposed changes, which would rearrange and consolidate some of the 4-H fair exhibits at the Adams County Regional Park grounds, stems from fairgoers’ comments over the past few years that say there is a lack of animals at the annual fair.

“A lot of why that may be is because we are underutilizing some of our spaces but also overusing them as well in some areas,” Snodell said.

At issue, Snodell said, is a shift in the types of animals exhibited at the fair — a factor that has also led to a shift in attendance numbers to some animal programs. The fair’s large animal program, which includes horses, cattle and pigs, went through several years of declining attendance, while attendance increased at small animal shows.

Snodell said the attendance numbers for the fair’s large animal program have leveled off and rebounded over the last two years but has not returned to levels seen about a decade ago.

“It takes a lot of room to raise a large animal, so at the end of the day, becomes a very expensive task,” Snodell said. “We’re seeing this growth in our small animal program and that has led to some serious space issues where we house those animals.”

To address these issues, Snodell said fair organizers are hosting a series of five public meetings to consider a total of five proposed changes.

One of the most significant changes would be reconfiguring one of the barns used during the fair by taking out the horse stalls and installing pipe stalls to move one of the animal shows from the indoor arena into the barn.

The remaining four operational changes includes moving the small animals once housed in the Al Lesser building into the indoor arena; moving the 4-H exhibits from the exhibit hall to the Al Lesser Building; and moving some of the animal shows and sales into the indoor arena from the livestock tent.

As a part of these changes, Snodell said the horse shows that are typically held on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday during the fair would be scaled back to two days on Sunday and Monday.

No money has been allocated to fund the proposed changes, but Snodell said any approved changes would be subject to a budget approval process. She said the implementation of these changes would also dovetail the fair’s 110th anniversary in 2014.

The remaining public meetings to discuss these changes will be held at 6 p.m. April 3, May 1, Oct. 2 and Nov. 6 at the Adams County Regional Park Complex Administrative Offices, 9755 Henderson Road in Brighton.