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by Mark Cheffey
Plans are in the works to continue upgrading the Marion County Junior Fair livestock show barns as exhibiting continues its current growth.
The Marion County Junior Fair Board recently decided to embark on a fundraising campaign to upgrade pens in the swine, sheep and goat barns as well as the central show ring.
The upgrades, which are hoped to be put in place for the 2022 Marion County Fair, are expected to not only expand capacity for the junior fair, but accommodate additional livestock events at the site.
“We are optimistic that updating our facilities will allow for increased use of the barns for events such as jackpot shows, livestock judging events and workshops,” the board noted in a letter sent out to supporters.
“These events would provide additional opportunities for our youth to expand their knowledge and build new skills.”
The estimated cost of the upgrades is $40,000.
According to the letter, discussion by the board of improving the livestock barns started following the fair in August as members reflected on the current status of the facilities and the challenges the setup presented in terms of “functionality and longevity.”
“As a result of years of use, our present wooden gates are in poor condition and a cause of concern for the safety of our youth, their projects and those visiting the fair,” the letter stated. “We have been able in recent years to make upgrades, via generous donations, to our Beef Barn and Show Ring that has allowed us to address many of those concerns and has positively impacted the experience of the public and our beef project members.
“Discussions were started previously concerning options for our other livestock barns, but the timing had not been right.”
The fair board recently received a “generous donation” of high-quality, used gates, allowing for upgrades to the swine barn.
The donation also prompted more board discussion which resulted in the decision to move ahead with fundraising to do more.
“Our campaign focuses on funding to allow for painting of donated penning as well as purchasing new penning for use in the Sheep/Goat Barn and the Show Ring,” the letter stated.
Brent Meyer, president of the fair board said the effort to upgrade the livestock barns comes from a strong commitment for 4-H and FFA exhibiting at the fair and other events which has seen strong growth in recent years.
“After a few years where it was down, we are seeing numbers spiking now to where we really need to expand our capacity,” Meyer said.
The fundraising will be somewhat of a challenge considering the cost of materials.
“It’s incredibly expensive,” Meyers said of the metal gates and fencing needed to make the facilities last for many years to come.
However, he also expressed confidence the community will continue to show its strong support by helping finance the upgrades.
“The support of the community over the years has been so great including the incredible support of the auction which helps the young exhibitors so much,” Meyers said. “And, I’m sure the community will step up again to help keep the fair strong for years to come.”
On completion of the project, according to the letter, plans are to include a permanent display of a listing of donors “who have helped us achieve our goal.”
Supporters will designate ribbons for different levels of donations, including a purple ribbon for donations of $1,000 and up, blue for $250 to $999, and green for $50 to $249.
Those wishing to donate can do so payable to: Marion County Fair, Livestock Pens Campaign, Marion County Courthouse, 100 South Main St., Room 201, Palmyra, MO 63461.