Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

May 13, 2013

Tazewell board approves funding to make more room for fairground fun

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

TAZEWELL, Va. — Officials with Tazewell County Fairgrounds are looking at a $93,000 project to install restrooms and a new pavilion to help spur economic development and grow the Tazewell County Fair.

The Tazewell County Board of Supervisors recently unanimously approved authorizing up to $93,000 in loan funds to be used by the fair committee, contingent upon the approval of the county budget committee. Fred Harman with the Tazewell County Fair Association agreed to pay the county back with five installments totaling $8,000 each during the course of the next five years.

Harman said the funds will be used to extend restroom services as well as build a new picnic pavilion near the Ratliff Pavilion on the fairgrounds.

“For years and years we have dreamed of having a large picnic pavilion up toward the Ratliff Pavilion,” Harman said. “We want to talk about a 30-foot by 50-foot picnic pavilion with restrooms because there aren’t any restrooms there. The people who work in the barns work hard and don’t have any restrooms. It would give the fair another venue to have events and would be something else the county could rent and derive revenue from. Basically, what we are proposing to do is we want to extend water and sewer lines along the road to the top of the fairgrounds.”

Harman said the extension of water and sewer lines would also free up more area for camping and exhibitions.

“We estimate it will give us 20 percent more room for the carnival,” Harman said. “This would also alleviate some water pressure problems we are having near Knuckles Hall. I think there are all kinds of advantages, not just for the fair but for the fairgrounds facility as a whole, to move forward with this project.”

Another project the fair association is looking at is giving the fairgrounds a more prominent entrance sign, Harman said.

“It’s a great facility but we don’t have a sign advertising that,” he said. “It’s okay during the fair when we have a Ferris wheel down there for people to see, but we want to fix it up for other times of the year. Part of this project would allow people coming into our walking gate to not feel like they’re coming through the back door anymore.”

Harman said the town of Tazewell has already talked with the Tazewell County about using their equipment to help reduce the cost of the project.

“I think using the county’s labor would help, and we’ve talked with national guard about coming in with their equipment and manpower,” he said. “The material cost of the project has been estimated at about $95,000. That is just materials, not labor.”

Harman said the county fair has become one of the biggest events the county holds annually.

“Attendance exceeds 30,000 people every year,” he said. “We draw from a pretty big region. We are the biggest event in the county. When we started out we never dreamed of this. Everything we have we use. We only have two part-time employees and the other 500 are all volunteers.”

Harman said this year’s fair will be starting earlier than usual, running from Friday, Aug. 2 through Saturday, Aug. 10.

“This year’s fair is going to have a lot of things going on,” he said. “We are two weeks earlier so we aren’t interfering with the state fair, Bristol race week, and the start of school. We have also changed our carnival for this year. We are going to go with a group called Casey’s Rides. They came down here last year, saw what we had and offered their services. They are very excited to be a part of this year’s fair.”

Of course, Harman said the fair is not the only event the fairgrounds host.

“We host 100 events every year,” he said. “This is one of the reasons the fairgrounds needs another shelter. There is a major company that rents the fairgrounds for their picnic and they have an extra expense of renting a tent because there is not enough room. Right now we want to grow where we are at.”

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.comꆱ