Clark County works to revitalize fairgrounds
By Kris Leonhardt/ Clark County Community Foundation
NEILLSVILLE – Clark County officials are currently working to breathe new life into their historic fairground facilities in Neillsville.
Through the Clark County Fairgrounds & Event Center Revitalization Project, the county plans to make some needed additions and upgrades to improve the existing grounds and make them a viable venue for the future.
The Clark County Fairgrounds was established in March of 1872, when the Clark County Agricultural Society was formed to establish an annual fair and grounds.
With $3,700 raised, the group purchased 40 acres of land on the southeast side of Neillsville in the town of Pine Valley for $1,200. With the remaining funds, the group purchased bleachers and constructed an exhibit building.
Over time the facilities expanded, as it created an event that continued through generations.
“The Clark County Fairgrounds has a long and storied history of providing wholesome entertainment and experiences for young and old alike,” said Clark County Forestry & Parks Department Administrator Rick Dailey. “The Clark County fair is a huge part of this history and tells the story of who we are. We want to continue this history and allow the next generation to experience the same.”
Work on updating the historic site began in 2017, to address the condition of the declining fairground facilities and rising number of exhibits coming to its annual fair event.
“Things really got going in November 2017 when the strategic plan for the fairgrounds was approved by the Forestry and Parks Committee,” explained Dailey. “The project catalyst was the poor condition and lack of capacity of some of the barns and deteriorating condition of infrastructure.”
Included in the original plan was a new multi-purpose livestock building and arena, removal of deteriorated buildings and creation of green space; a new Listeman band shell; expanded horse arena; draft horse addition; improved traffic, lighting, parking, and camping area; and a new multi-purpose event center for year-round use.
While some of these improvements have already been made, the county has a long way to go to achieve its goals.
“Recent improvement projects include: expanded horse show arena, improved parking, camping and traffic flow, new LED lighting, new blacktop and acquired three acres adjacent to the grounds for future expansion,” said Dailey.
“Building costs are approximately $750,000 for the multipurpose livestock barn and $900,000 for the multipurpose event center.
“We hope to construct the first building in 2020 or 2021. Timeline is donation dependent.”
With the improvements, the county hopes to maintain a viable fairground venue, while stimulating additional activity on the grounds.
Getting it done
A fundraising committee has been established to raise the funds needed to complete the construction of the two new buildings. All other Fairground Project improvements are being paid for by the Forestry & Parks Department through their annual budget process.
The Clark County Community Foundation (CCCF) has been designated by Clark County to receive all donations for the project.
Anyone interested in naming rights or in-kind donations can contact Rick Dailey at 517 Court St., Room 103, Neillsville, WI, 54456, by phone 715-743-5142, or by email [email protected].
Monetary donations should be directed to the CCCF, 301 N. Main St., PO Box 116, Loyal, WI, 54446.
For more information on CCCF, call 715-937-6167 or email [email protected].