GREENVILLE — Elected officials and the Great Darke County Fair elite gathered Wednesday evening to give a proper opening ceremony to the Beef and Dairy Pavilion that was quickly pressed into service last year.
The temporary home for the cattle visiting the fair went up in flames two days after Christmas in 2013, and a valiant effort by a whole community was responsible for getting a new building constructed in time for the 2014 fair.
Brian Rismiller, president of the fair board, told the gathered guests, “We wanted to have a proper ribbon cutting.”
The 41,000-square-foot building includes a Grade A milking facility and power to every stall. The stalls also can be broken down to allow for multiple uses for the building throughout the rest of the year.
“It’s a building we can use for many things,” Rismiller said.
Jerry Marker, board treasurer, said the total costs of the new building came to about $1.7 million, including about $60,000 for demolition of the old building. The insurance for the destroyed building covered about $1.2 million of the cost; about $110,000 came from donations; and the fair board covered the remaining almost $413,000.
Fair Manager Daryl Riffle said at Thurday morning’s ag breakfast that the cost of the building has been paid in full.
Riffle recalled at the ribbon-cutting Wednesday the moment he learned the old Cow Palace was on fire. He thought at first it must have been a mistake, but as he drove through town and saw the smoke billowing through the air, he acknowledged the truth.
He said it was a “hard way to get a new building,” but he thinks the replacement is a “beautiful structure” that is far too nice to call a “barn.”
Cindy Riffle said, as head of the beef department, that she and Jim Zumbrink, head of the dairy department, expected to take the lead on getting the new building ready, but they quickly found help from every side.
“The whole board took this project on, and I think they did a great job,” she said.
Special thanks were offered to Bruns General Contracting, Bud’s Electric and Prenger’s, among others. Bruns served as general contractor. Bud’s was responsible for the “miles of wires” installed in the building. Prenger’s built the milking station.
Top donors were recognized. They were The Andersons, Second National Bank and Darke County Harness Horsemen’s Association. Signs recognizing their contribution will hang in the building for 10 years.
Dan Wigger, the project manager for Bruns, said, “This was one of the easier jobs I’ve ever had in my lifetime, because everybody was trying to help as much as they could.”