Darke County Fair Board accepts swine barn bid, debates dog barn location


GREENVILLE — The Darke County Fair Board held a special meeting Friday evening to accept bids for replacement of facilities destroyed in the swine barn fire Oct. 25.

Fair board members previously discussed bids from three companies for construction of the new replacement barn, including Minster-based H.A. Dorsten, Inc., Bruns General Contracting of Tipp City and Conger Construction Group of Lebanon. The board ultimately voted unanimously to accept the Dorsten bid.

“Can you say sitting here right now that we can be in that barn by fair time?” board member Russ Bennett asked a Dorsten representative during Friday’s meeting. The representative replied that he could.

The location of the new dog barn also was discussed. Board members Ed Erisman and Richard Delk reportedly discussed locating the barn on the south end of the fairgrounds, near the horse barn, but both dog and horse committee members thought that was a bad idea.

Horse Committee members expressed concern that placing the two barns so close together could create congestion issues similar to those at the north end of the fairgrounds, as well as fears that noise from the dog barn might upset the horses. They also said the Horse Committee’s 10-year expansion plan might be hindered by the presence of the dog barn.

“I think the dogs are in agreement with that,” Dog Committee Secretary Becky Baker said.

Dog Committee representatives also were concerned that placing the barns so close together could hinder plans to provide parking and camping space for its exhibitors.

Erisman defended the suggested location, saying it would eliminate the need to build driveways and restroom facilities, as well as allowing access to electrical hookups already present because of the other barns. Board member Jim Zumbrink disagreed, however.

“If the fair moves south, that dog barn is going to be in the way,” Zumbrink said.

Darke County OSU extension 4-H educator Rhonda Williams expressed similar concerns.

“If we’re going to grow, you need to start thinking about that now,” Williams said. “Otherwise you’re going to have the same problems down there as you do up here.”

Board president Dean Neff agreed.

“I think that’s definitely the wrong place to put it,” Neff said. “But that’s just my opinion.”

Zumbrink called into question whether a new dog barn would even be constructed, saying the original agreement between the fair board and Dog Committee was for committee members to raise 50 percent of the funds for the new facility, which the board would then match. The Dog Committee has raised about $30,000 toward the project at this time.

Members of the goat, swine and dog committees — as well as the Darke County Barrow Boosters — contributed to a feasibility study to gauge support for the construction of new barns in October 2018, prior to the swine barn fire. Though the replacement barn, funded by an expected $800,000 insurance payout and a $500,000 donation from Cargill, Inc., will replace the swine barn and the goats already have a functioning barn, the current dog barn has been condemned, forcing the dogs to exhibit in tents during the 2018 fair.

Doubts were raised as to whether the board’s fundraising efforts would be enough to pay for new dog and goat facilities. Matt Hughes, of Cincinnati-based nonprofit consulting firm Fair Funding, LLC, has reportedly raised $106,000 in addition to the Cargill donation.

“I don’t think we can get it done this year,” board member Russ Bennett said.

The fair board’s next regular meeting will take place at 7:30 p.m. April 3 at the county fairgrounds.

The Darke County Fair Board accepted a bid from H.A. Dorsten, Inc. for construction of a new swine barn at a special meeting Friday evening.
https://www.dailyadvocate.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/web1_Fair-4-5.jpgThe Darke County Fair Board accepted a bid from H.A. Dorsten, Inc. for construction of a new swine barn at a special meeting Friday evening. Anthony Baker | The Daily Advocate

By Anthony Baker

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The writer may be reached at 937-569-4315. To join the conversation and get updates on Facebook, search Advocate360. For more features online, go to dailyadvocate.com.

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