Jul 23, 2015

New building welcomed at Park County Fairgrounds

Park County officials excitedly christened a new multi-use exhibit hall at the Park County Fairgrounds on Tuesday evening.

Overcoming some early weather delays, crews under contractor Synergy Construction readied the main section of the building just in time for fair use, though a couple of the building’s most notable new features — a commercial kitchen and some conference rooms — will need to be finished later.

With the snip of a ribbon and some squirts of silly string, Park County officials formally opened their new multi-use facility. Cody News Co. photo by CJ Baker

At Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting, Park County commissioners and fair board members spoke enthusiastically of the new building.

“There’s still work to be done — we have some more paving and water drainage issues to do, and we’re going to run a couple new water lines eventually — but we think we have a state-of-the-art fairgrounds to accomodate 21st century-type people and 19th century people and everyone in between,” county commissioner Bucky Hall said in a recent interview, noting the county has also spent more than $1 million upgrading the fairgrounds’ electrical system.

“We think we have a state-of-the-art fairgrounds to accommodate 21st century-type people and 19th century people and everyone in between,” said Commissioner Bucky Hall.

The new $3.1 million building is housing exhibits during fair week, but commissioners are at least as excited about its potential as a meeting place throughout the rest of the year.

“There’s the potential for the private sector in Powell to provide lodging space to really make that a destination point in the winter — especially (because) there’s a convention in every weekend,” Hall said.

Inside the facility on Tuesday evening, superintendents were busy judging and arranging fair entries for display.

Johanna Cubbage, now in her 39th year as a fair superintendent, said she thinks the new building is a good investment.

“It’s going to be something the community is going to be able to enjoy and use for a long time,” she said.

Adjusting to the larger wide-open space was a learning experience this year, but “people have really been upbeat about the changes,” Cubbage said.

“The new building is “going to be something the community is going to be able to enjoy and use for a long time,” Powell resident Johanna Cubbage predicted.

Park County Fair Board President Steve Martin said that no one really knew who needed how much room in the new space, but people were cordial. Even in Monday’s and Tuesday’s last-minute preparations, Martin said it didn’t feel overly stressful, “because it seems everybody’s working together to make it work.”

“It’s going to be a good deal,” he said of the new building.

The new exhibit hall is slightly smaller than the halls it’s replacing — about 16,100 square feet versus 17,500 square feet — but the general consensus appeared to be that it feels bigger.

It also has natural light from skylights and glass doors, something the old halls did not.

Cubbage said the fairgrounds have come a long ways; she laughed as she recalled a year when one former exhibit space became so hot that “the seals were popping” on the jams, jellies and other canned goods.

The county is beginning a private fundraising campaign to help pay for furnishings for the new facility, Martin said. Commissioners and fair board members are hoping the public will buy commemorative bricks, which will be laid near the building’s main entrance.

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