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The Winnebago County fairgrounds will be getting a new shelter house soon, as the current one is in disrepair and has dangerous cracks and lifts in the concrete floor.

Tom Thompson said the new shelter house will be 52-by-72 feet, and it will be right next to the old shelter house.

With activities, from an entertainment stage to a sitting area, moving to the new shelter house, Thompson said he is hoping the fair board will get some playground equipment to provide a shady play area for the kids to be in during the sweltering hot days of the fair.

“Since 9 times out of 10 it’s 90 degrees during the fair, if you have playground equipment outside, the kids can’t sit on it, they can’t play on it, it’s too hot,” he said.

Thompson said board members will take out the concrete, which is a safety hazard the way it is now, and replace it with sand, put in some playground equipment and sand play stuff for the kids and maybe fence the area off.

The new shelter house will be used just like the old one, but with more space, according to Thompson.

“People are in here all the time, during the fair, just in and out, sitting around, talking, stuff like that,” he said. “There’s always the fundraiser meals. They can be done in the new shelter house. It’ll be a little nicer than this one has been.”

For open stage entertainment, there will be seating and picnic tables available for people to sit, relax and enjoy the entertainment, Thompson said.

“Hopefully, we’ll do a few more things in there as far as entertainment,” he said.

Thompson said it could also be a spot for wedding receptions as a nice outdoor space.

The need for a new shelter house rose along with the tripping hazard the cement in the old one presented, Thompson said.

“We decided it’s not worth going in there and trying to fix the cement,” he said.

The new shelter house project currently has a budget of $68,000. Thompson said the fair board hopes to have construction done this fall with total completion by the spring of 2020.

According to Thompson, most of the budget will come from the Hanson Family Foundation donation of $25,000, in addition to $16,000 from the Winnebago County Community Foundation, $10,000 from state infrastructure funding through the Association of Iowa Fairs and $2,500 from the America’s Farm Grow Communities grant. This leaves $14,500 remaining for the fair board to raise.

“I think it’ll just make this look so much better, just having a new building in the center of everything here,” Thompson said. “I think it’ll look nice.”

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