Fair board accepts $500,000 donation from Cargill

GREENVILLE – With an 8-2 vote, the Darke County Fair Board raised 20 percent of the proposed funding it will need to replace the Swine Barn and build a goat barn and dog barn. A special meeting was held Wednesday to discuss the new barn/fundraising kickoff and the board agreed to accept a $500,000 donation from Cargill in exchange for lifetime naming rights of the building. The Agricultural Society’s legal counsel advised the board to wait until he had an opportunity read through the terms and conditions before accepting the proposal. Jerry Marker and Jim Zumbrink voted against accepting the grant.

While the majority of the board agreed to accept the donation, questions remained regarding the scope of the project. Marker and Zumbrink expressed an interest in moving the barn(s) to the south end of the fairgrounds to alleviate some of the congestion in the north end. Zumbrink argued that erecting the new buildings close to the old buildings would put them in the situation they were in when the Swine Barn caught fire. Some of the other nearby buildings sustained damage, including the Beef & Dairy Pavilion that will need $50,000 in repairs.

Another option that was mentioned was to have one building that would house the swine, goats and sheep.

Moving the barns to south end or erecting one building was speculation by those in attendance as board member Richard Delk pointed out the board hasn’t decided what it is going to do. Board member Dave Singer urged board members to be united going forward.

However, the board may need to stick to the scope of the project they outlined in their request for the half-million dollar grant. The proposal to Cargill included the following:

* Demolition of the existing Goat Barn, Dog Barn and FFA Building;

* Construction of a 140’x200’x18′ (28,000 sq. ft.) metal framed Swine Barn and Community Center of fully insulated construction, with complete HVAC service, and will also include a prep kitchen and restroom facility. This building will serve as a multi-use community. This facility would be available for business meetings, trade shows, weddings and receptions, and community events throughout the remainder of the year;

* Construction of an 80’x240’x18′ (19,200 sq. ft.) metal framed Goat Barn in the location of the old Swine Barn;

* Construction of a 72’x220’x14′ (15,840 sq. ft.) wood framed Dog Pavilion, which will be broken into 72’x90′ enclosed and concreted section, with the remaining as a covered show arena.

Bids on the current scope of the project are expected on Feb. 1.

The proposal to Cargill estimated the cost of the project at $2.3 million. The board expects to receive approximately $1 million from the combination of the insurance settlement from the loss of the previous swine barn and public grants. The remaining $1.3 million will need to be raised through corporate, small business and individual donations from the community.

Prior to the meeting, a quorum of the board met behind closed doors in an unadvertised meeting. One board member left the meeting and called it an “illegal meeting.” The board of directors of an agricultural society is specifically listed in Ohio’s Sunshine Law as a public body that must adhere to its rules, including 24-hour notice of a special meeting. Board members not present for the unadvertised meeting were Zumbrink, Thomas Shaw, Ed Erisman and Dave Niley. Niley was absent from the advertised special meeting.

The following is a press release regarding the donation issued by the fair board and Cargill:

Cargill gives fair 500,000 reasons to rebuild

GREENVILLE – There are 88 Counties in Ohio and strange, but true, there are 94 County Fairs and Associations in Ohio.  Only one of those 94 received $500,000 yesterday from Cargill.  One of the largest agricultural companies in the world gave a ringing endorsement of the Great Darke County Fair’s efforts to build three new buildings totaling of over 60,000 square feet.

“Our 11 member Fair Board was speechless when they learned of Cargill’s generosity, this is a big victory for our 4H/FFA kids and the community,” said Brian Rismiller, secretary and fair manager.

By far the Fair is the largest gathering of people in Darke County. This year’s summer rite of passage, the 163rd Great Darke County Fair will run for 9 days beginning Friday, Aug. 16 and will have a different landscape of buildings, some finished and some under construction.

“Cargill may be a global company, but the success of our company is largely dependent upon the success of the communities in which we live and work” said Jason Brewer, Plant Superintendent at the Cargill Soybean Crushing Plant located in Sidney.  “When the fire happened, we knew we needed to help.  The local contributions come from our plant located in Sidney, as well as the Cargill Provimi central office, based in Brookville, but the largest percentage of contributions comes from our North American soybean crushing business, as well as Cargill Corporate Partnership funds.”  Brewer further added “As someone born and raised in Darke County, I am proud to work for a company that has stepped up in such a huge way to support my local community.  Cargill is proud to be the first company to partner with the Fair during this time of need in Darke County, and we hope the community and other local businesses will join in and make this project a success.”

The $500,000 gift will create significant momentum for a $2.5 million campaign.  The items to be funded include a 28,000 square foot swine barn along with a 19,200 square foot goat barn and a new 15,840 square foot dog barn.  Other improvements are being considered.

The Fair Board will run the campaign and will be looking for support from the agricultural community, the business community, fair vendors as well as Fair, FFA and 4H alumni and from foundations and trusts.  In recent years there are more than a dozen fairs though-out Ohio that have added new species specific buildings as well as multi-purpose facilities.

Board President Dean Neff said, “This is a great day in our Fair’s 163-year history, our Fair Board is completely in lock-step on moving our Fair to the next level for our Junior Fair programs and the Darke County community.”

For more information on this project or the Great Darke County Fair, please log onto the Fair’s website, www.darkecountyfair.com or call the Fair office at 937-548-5044.

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