March 26, 2019
By: Dwayne Page
A new 18,200 square foot agriculture center building is under construction at the DeKalb County Fairgrounds behind the commercial exhibit building.
When completed the center will serve as an indoor venue for farm and agriculture related events during the fair and throughout the year including a farmers market. The fairgrounds will also be using five additional acres to expand parking.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture recently awarded a grant directly to the DeKalb County Fair Association to help fund the project.
According to Jeff McMillen, member of the Fair Board, the $400,000 center will be constructed in phases with the first phase (a new 100 x 150 square foot barn) expected to be finished by the end of May.
“We’re having to do this in phases because we don’t have the money to do the whole project at one time. Hopefully within a two to three year period we will have the total package completed. We’re looking at around $300,000 to $400,000 once we get the total building finished. Our goal is to get it useable for the cattle show and things of that sort for this year’s fair,” said McMillen.
The barn will feature a show arena for cattle shows and even small rodeos and horse shows. The agriculture center will also include a 40′ x 80’ heated and cooled space venue for exhibits and demonstrations during the fair and for meetings and activities throughout the year.
“It (exhibit hall) won’t be ready in time for this year’s fair but once completed we plan to use this portion of the center to display and exhibit during the fair agricultural related products grown or produced in DeKalb County. Other times during the year, this area could be used or rented for various meetings. It will have a 2,200 square foot meeting area so there will be plenty of room for tables and chairs. It will have a small kitchen and concession area along with restrooms for men and women. It’s just another venue for people to rent space for events they have,” said McMillen.
Along with the grant and loans, the Fair Association is hoping to receive donations over time to help complete the new agriculture center. “This first phase we are doing just to get the building up and the concrete work done and all is going to cost about $220,000. We’re hoping to get enough donations and things of that sort over time to be able to fulfill other needs we have such as lighting, bathrooms and things like that,” McMillen continued.
McMillen said the new ag center will expand opportunities for showcasing more activities and events during the fair and will not replace any of the other current venues such as the Kenneth Sandlin Center or the Commercial Exhibit buildings. The existing barn will continue to be used for small events such as the poultry shows.