New plan for County Commons


LINCOLN COUNTY –– A new multipurpose building. A covered pavilion. A renovated floral building.

These are three of the improvements included in the newly-revised master plan for the Lincoln County Commons, home of the Lincoln County Fair.

A renovated livestock barn and a new gateway, as well as a stage, a plaza and expanded lawn areas are also included in the newly rolled out master plan, which was the subject of a county-wide meeting Thursday night at the Lincoln County Courthouse. The total cost for the fairgrounds improvement projects is estimated to be $9.8 million.

“The fair board is in the process of trying to get the final tweaks,” said Jim Buisman, an outgoing member of the Lincoln County Fair Board. “I think we need to do something with the site to make it more viable and useable for the public.”

Over the last several years, the century-old fairgrounds saw declining attendance at the Lincoln County Fair, buildings on site getting ever-older and falling into disrepair and revenues continually dropping. After the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners took over management of the fairgrounds almost 10 years ago and committed to continue hosting the fair, the county released an initial master plan that was completed in 2014.

Those involved in the project conducted an inventory of current buildings on the fairgrounds property, made a list of future facilities, performed a market study detailing the types of events that could be held there and held interviews with more than 40 people with a stake in the project.

The result was the draft site and facilities plan that were the subject of multiple public hearings throughout the county, where members of the public commented on the plans. The planning team on the project also formed a business plan to direct management and operations for the fairgrounds.

The public input, as well as revised plans for the fairgrounds, were included in the latest master plan.

“The main exhibit building is not in good shape,” Buisman said Thursday. “It’s not stable, and there’s a lot of structural improvements that have to be made.”

The master plan also includes the state of current fairgrounds buildings, including the stage, main exhibit hall, horse barn and storage shed, the floral building, the rabbit barn, the riding arena, the 4-H livestock barn, the 4-H building and restrooms and the outdoor arena.

Traffic circulation, noise control, the project budget and next steps are also included in the revised master plan.

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