Fair Board reverses decision to demolish Milkhouse


SIDNEY – The Shelby County Fair Board reversed its decision to demolish the Milkhouse at the Fairgrounds during its monthly meeting Wednesday evening.

In February the board voted to demolish the Milkhouse this fall as part of the infiltration/inflow project at the Fairgrounds. To remain operational, the Milkhouse would need a sewer tap installed, Shelby County Maintenance Supervisor Chris Roediger said then.

Citing the board’s long-term plan to eliminate the Milkhouse and the fact that not many people use it, board members said they didn’t want to spend more money on the facility and decided to demolish it.

However, some dairy exhibitors recently told Fair Board members they wouldn’t return to the Fair if the Milkhouse was torn down. Approximately 12 to 15 people use the milker each year and are opposed to other options such as hand milking or using a portable milker.

Two groups also are interested in renting the Fairgrounds for events but only if the Milkhouse is available, Roediger said. The payments from those rentals would cover the cost of installing a sewer tap at the Milkhouse, he said.

The board ultimately decided to keep the Milkhouse, with Vice President Matt Henman saying the sewer tap could be used for a different building in that location if the Milkhouse is demolished in the future.

In other news, Secretary Bill Clark requested that the board purchase 150 folding chairs for the Beige Building, which would cost $7,000 to $7,500.

The board made several upgrades to the Beige Building in the past year, which included getting 160 new chairs. All those upgrades were paid for by grant funds.

However, for large events such as weddings, approximately 300 chairs are needed. Old metal chairs are available, Roediger said, but they diminish the look of the venue.

Some board members questioned whether they should spend the money without having a clear view of the group’s budget, which wasn’t available Wednesday as financial information from this year’s Fair is still being compiled.

Treasurer Eugene Schulze said preliminary data shows the board made almost $250,000 on gate entries, Industrial Day bands, season passes, parking passes, camping, Grandstand admissions and pit passes – up about $25,000 compared to 2019.

By a 12-11 vote, the board decided to purchase up to 100 chairs.

President Eric Garber requested the board consider donations to Sidney Rescue and possibly the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office for their time spent at the harness races. By law, paramedics are required to be at harness races.

Sidney Rescue agreed to accept a donation in lieu of being paid an hourly rate for its time at the races. Board member Bill Frey estimated the cost if an hourly rate was charged would be approximately $2,000.

Without a clear view of the budget, the board decided to table the discussion about possible donations until a future meeting.

Organizers requested use of the Fair’s benches for the Fall Festival at Lake Loramie State Park and the Shelby County Historical Society’s AVTT-TWF Traveling Wall and field of crosses program.

Some board members were in favor of helping other organizations that host events while other board members expressed concerns about damage to the benches.

In the past the board allowed organizations to use its bleachers, which led to additional wear and tear and having to replace them sooner, board member Jeremy Reese said.

The board ultimately voted to allow the Fall Festival and Historical Society to use the benches. A $200 deposit will be required, and any damaged benches would be paid for by the organization that used them.

Future bench rentals will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Garber requested suggestions on where electrical upgrades could be performed throughout the Fairgrounds. One vendor had said the electrical system wasn’t powerful enough while making cotton candy, and another said it was very dark at night around their location, Garber reported.

Board members also suggested seeking electrical upgrades near the Gazebo and the infield of the Grandstand.

The board will look into the cost of the possible electrical upgrades and make a decision about them in the future.

Mitch Brautigam said the petting zoo ran out of shavings for bedding and got some more from Chad Huelskamp. The board voted to reimburse Huelskamp $200 for the shavings.

Henman asked if the board would like to host a gun raffle or gun bingo this year, possibly in November.

Last year the board hosted a gun raffle and made $10,000. A gun bingo would make more money, Henman said, but would require a lot of work from all the board members.

Board member Jodi Rowles and Garber both said they’re concerned about making plans to host an in-person gun bingo with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rowles said rising case numbers could lead to further restrictions on gatherings, making any work toward hosting an in-person event all for naught.

The board decided it will host a gun raffle with tickets available at the monthly meeting in November.

Jessica Adams, the county’s 4-H youth development educator, said she would like to get a permanent structure for the Junior Fair Board headquarters.

The Junior Fair Board worked out of the back half of the Extension Office during the 2021 Fair, which isn’t a viable long-term solution, Adams said. Because of Ohio State University policy, an Extension staff member must be present anytime people are in the building.

Plans previously were made, before Adams was hired, to create a permanent Junior Fair headquarters. The Fair Board will discuss those plans with the Shelby County commissioners, Garber said.

Additionally, Adams said the Junior Fair will host a rummage sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Fairgrounds. She also thanked the Senior Fair Board for its work and the raise it approved for Junior Fair Board members during its July meeting.

Committee chairs gave reports on their activities at this year’s Fair and thanked everyone who helped.

“I would like to thank each and every one on this board,” Garber said. “Everybody worked well together, and I do appreciate it. I thought it was a very, very good Fair.”

Among the highlights of the committee reports, Aaron Heilers said the swine open show had the highest participation in eight years. Reese said 160 of the 200 available camping spots were used this year, which was down compared to two years ago when the last full Fair was held.

Garber requested any nominations for the Fair’s Hall of Fame be presented by next month’s board meeting.

By Kyle Shaner

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Reach the writer at [email protected] or 937-538-4824.

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