DARKE COUNTY — Every dog has its day, or so the saying goes.
The Darke County Junior Fair Dog Committee hopes that day will be sometime before the Great Darke County Fair opens its gates in late summer 2017, if its plans to build a new dog barn come to fruition.
“We’re cramped,” said Committee Vice President Kathleen Ditmer, who, along with Committee President Andria Haworth, are spearheading fundraising efforts to have a new structure built.
The current barn used for showing canines is, for lack of a better term, “compact.” Originally used for poultry exhibitors, it currently can house a maximum of 50 junior fair dogs, and does not possess an indoor show ring. Of all the animal barns on the fairgrounds, only the dogs and horses don’t have indoor show capabilities.
“We usually have 20 open dog exhibitors, too,” said Haworth. “We can’t have the junior dogs or the open dogs on the same day. We can’t fit everyone in there.”
“And if it’s raining on the day of the show, guess what?” added Ditmer.
Haworth said a new barn — 72 feet by 220 feet — would double the number of dogs exhibitors could show, allowing space for both crating and showing.
“We would be able to crate at least 100 dogs,” she said. “We want to be able to have junior and open dogs at the same time.”
The group began fundraising efforts last year, conducting a dog bone sale last fall. According to Ditmer, the money was originally raised for repairs to the current barn.
“We realized the need is greater to have a new building,” she said.
Fundraising efforts scheduled for this year include a promotion with Texas Roadhouse restaurant, in which dog department youngsters will sell cinnamon rolls, as well as an agreement with the Dayton Dragons minor league baseball team for volunteers to work concessions at Fifth Third Field for 20 games this summer.
Another money making venture will be the sale of engraved memorial paving bricks, which would be placed outside the new dog barn.
“This could be for a beloved dog or for a person who endeared [him- or herself] to the department,” said Ditmer.
One estimate on the cost of constructing a new home for the canine set is $100,000, which would include materials and labor. Ditmer said, however, that the cost is approximate, and the group plans to seek additional estimates.
The Darke County Fair Board of Governors has given the committee its blessing to raise funds and there have been initials discussions on the location of the proposed barn, most likely on the south part of the fairgrounds.
Though plans for the new barn are still in the preliminary stages, Fair Board President Brian Rismiller said the committee can count on the support of the board once more factors fall into place.
“We’re willing to help,” said Rismiller. “There are a lot of things that need to happen, such as getting the ground ready, running the electric, the infrastructure, things like that. But we’ll definitely help out.”
Ditmer said that one does not necessarily need to be involved with the committee to help out.
“Anyone who wants to work at the Dragons’ games, or buy cinnamon rolls, or donate money — we appreciate it,” she said.
To volunteer or donate, contact Committee President Andria Haworth at 937-621-2221 or Fair Board Dog Department Chair Ed Erisman at 937-459-0800.