Day At The Track

Grandstand rises again at Fairgrounds

03:40 AM 14 Mar 2019 NZDT
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McHenry County Fairgrounds
Despite the weather, construction of the grandstands at the McHenry County Fairgrounds is nearly complete in preparation for the coming 2019 fair.

Nearly two decades ago, visitors to the McHenry County Fair could enjoy shows and entertainment from the comfort of a large, covered grandstand. The structure stood where the Jewel food store now stands, overlooking a harness racing track.

But the sale of about 20 acres of land leased to the fairgrounds in the late ’90s resulted in the dismantling and storage of the structure with hopes of one day resurrecting it in a new location.

That day has come. With about 85 percent of the project completed, April 1 is the projected completion date of the rebuilding of the fairgrounds grandstands.

The project is the culmination of several years of planning, budgeting, and saving by the McHenry County Fair Board.

The fully covered grandstand will seat about 3,400 spectators, including 40 handicapped-accessible seats. A ramped entrance will provide access for all seating areas. The seats will be numbered, so tickets can be sold for assigned seats.

“It will be much nicer for our patrons,” fair board President Ken Bauman said. The roofed structure will offer protection from the elements and the assigned seats that provide the freedom to get up and return during a show.

Back in the day, the fair hosted big name entertainers such as Three Dog Night. The hope is that the new structure will again allow the fair to attract the bigger acts that require a larger venue. The entertainment lineup for 2019 will be announced in early April.

“I’d like to thank everyone who helped and braved the elements to get this done,” Bauman said.

More to come

Visitors to the fair this season can expect to find an expanded midway with attractions spreading out across the creek to the west of the grandstands. New on-site horse stabling will showcase McHenry County’s large equine population and accommodate more activities in the horse arena.

Other improvements the board is looking at include a permanent washroom facility and lighting in the parking lot.

“Our goal is to make this the best fair ever,” said fair board member Frank Kearns.

The McHenry County Fair is currently ranked as the second largest 4-H livestock fair in the state of Illinois, due in large part to the improvements made in recent years to the swine, sheep, and beef barns.

“We are hoping people will see we are trying to make it the best,” said Kearns.


Reprinted with permission of The Woodstock Independent

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