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Hamilton County kicks off 4-H Fair, renovations and rebranding planned for aging site

Posted at 6:47 AM, Jul 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-20 10:45:40-04

NOBLESVILLE — The Hamilton County 4-H Fair kicks off Thursday morning.

Plenty of food, animals and entertainment for all ages will be happening July 20-24.

And this year, there are some exciting changes are coming to the fairgrounds.

A groundbreaking Thursday marks the beginning of work on the master plan: ‘Fairgrounds for the Future.'

These upgrades are a long time coming — it’s been over 25 years since any major work has been done at the site in Noblesville.

The historic O.V. Winks and Annex Buildings will be lost to the expansion of Pleasant Street.

In their place, a new bicentennial pavilion will be built to mark 200 years of Hamilton County.

Grace Allee is a 2023 graduate of Hamilton Heights High School and a proud 10-year 4-H-er.

“One thing I’ve definitely learned is time management. There’s a lot here to do at the county fair and being involved with so much - whether that’s helping with my club leader or just waking in this building and seeing what I can do," Allee said.

She won Supreme Showmanship in 2021 and works with the kids the Mini 4-H program.

“I love the kids here and how much they get involved and excited about it. It gives me a little spirit as well," she said.

She’s spent much of her childhood at the fairgrounds.

Purdue Extension Hamilton County Director Susan Peterson says it’s known as a gathering place for generations of Hoosiers.

“We have over a thousand volunteers in all extension programming areas that help to make this happen and to take our program, more than just the fair. It’s 365 days a year," Peterson said.

In an effort to modernize, renovate and expand the aging 40 acre site, the facility will be re-branded “The Silos at 37 Hamilton County: 4-H Fairgrounds and Events Center” and will be rolled out in three phases.

“Time flies and it’s time for some upgrades and so we’re having an opportunity to do that with the support of the Hamilton county commissioners and the approval of the funding by the council.”

The first phase will cost $26.5 million, of which the Hamilton County Council has invested $15 million.

It will include improvements to the existing exhibition center, drainage, llama barn and grounds.

“The process is to get this to be a place for community gathering, an event center if you will, that will also hold a great 4-H fair,' Extension Board President Jane Sipe said.

Right now, there is just funding for phase one, of which construction is set to start this fall.

They will launch a capital campaign to assist with additional funding for phases two and three.

“What’s next, we wanna build a new show arena. We wanna build new animal barns. And we wanna upgrade our exhibition center that’s here behind me so all those things are in our master plan and it will take us out several years to build that," she said.

In launching the capital campaign — they’re hoping that some stakeholders and community partners will step up for a collaboration.

The total project cost is estimated at $65 million.