Grandstand driveat one-thirdof goal

By Patricia Ann Speelman -

SIDNEY — With two months to go in its current contract with a professional fundraising firm, the Shelby County Agricultural Society (fair board) has raised just under one-third of its initial goal for a new grandstand at the Shelby County Fairgrounds.

As of May 18, the fair board had collected $359,875 toward its stated goal of $1.2 million.

That would pay for a 2,000-seat stadium with a roof, including grounds preparation, electrical wiring within the grandstand and lights around the track.

Of the monies raised so far, $200,000 came in a grant from the state, obtained by the Shelby County commissioners to support the grandstand project. Another $50,000 is a grant from the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The remaining $149,875 has been raised through individual and corporate contributions sought by Fair Funding LLC. Steve Eddingfield, Fair Funding’s representative, reported that figure to the fair board at the group’s May 18 meeting.

The Cincinnati-based firm was contracted for a six-month campaign that began in February. The county’s permanent improvement fund is paying Fair Funding’s $13,000-per-month fee as a loan. In January, commissioners said they hoped the loan would be repaid from monies raised for the project.

“(The commissioners) are committed to following through on fundraising. If there’s just enough money (raised) for one project and the permanent improvement (fund) doesn’t get the loan back, that’s OK. If there’s enough to pay back the fund for another project, that’s great,” Commissioner Tony Bornhorst said at the time.

When the drive began, Jerry Schaffner, fair board secretary, said that plans for the new structure could be scaled back if funds acquired were insufficient to meet the initial goal. On Wednesday, he told the Sidney Daily News that a grandstand with a roof would cost an estimated $600,000 to $800,000.

“Until you bid it, you don’t really know an exact figure,” he said. “It would be less if we don’t have a roof, but people (at the fair) want to be under cover, and groups wanting to use the fairgrounds will want a roof.”

The old grandstand was razed in March, and the fair board will rent portable bleachers for use during this year’s fair.

To contribute to the fund for a new grandstand, contact the Community Foundation of Shelby County at 497-7800.

By Patricia Ann Speelman

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.