‘All we’re missing now is a parking lot’: Butler County Fairgrounds event center completed after 8 years

The Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce hosted an open house for the newly completed Butler County Fairgrounds Event Center in Hamilton Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. CONTRIBUTED

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The Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce hosted an open house for the newly completed Butler County Fairgrounds Event Center in Hamilton Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. CONTRIBUTED

Work recently wrapped on the Butler County Fairgrounds Event Center, a nearly 8-year-old facility that until now had remained an unfinished, all-season building.

The facility in Hamilton was constructed in 2012, but there wasn’t enough money at the time to complete the project, according to Doug Turner, president of the Butler County Fair Board. It sat for years as just a shell of a building, walls lined with plastic and concrete floors making up most of the interior, Turner said.

Now, after months of renovation, all the concrete at the event center is covered with drywall and barn metal. Added to the center was a dressing room for brides and a storage room for table and chairs. The sparse kitchen was completed and painted, and an overhead door replaced plywood that had to be uninstalled and reinstalled from windows every time there was an event.

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“We had a structure, but not a finished product, and now we have a finished product,” he said.

Added to the fair’s office was drywall in the foyer, painted walls and newly installed lighting. Floors have been polished and bathrooms repainted.

Community involvement played a part.

“It’s been pretty awesome as to how many organizations and people have stepped up to either donate their time, services or money and help get this project completed,” Turner said. “All we’re missing now is a parking lot.”

Prior to the improvements, the Butler County Commissioners in 2018 had asked Butler County Fair board members what was on their wishlist to get done. The event center, with its exposed insulation and concrete and no drywall, was an obvious choice.

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Commissioners made a committment to help fund the project with the Fair board, saying if the board could come up with anything up until $50,000, the county would match that amount. The fair board raised that amount, commissioners matched it and a matching grant from the Ohio Department of Agriculture brough the total raised to $150,000.

“The biggest thing is, when we were showing the building to brides … it just wasn’t an attractive facility,” Turner said. “To make it look like what they wanted it to do, there just had to be an awful lot of decorating to be done.”

Ray Rigby, of Brailey Promotions Inc., helped organize last month’s Tri-State Outdoor Show. He said the group was so pleased with the facility and its hospitality that the show officially moved it there from another location.

“It is a perfect size for an event such as ours and the improvements made since our first meeting has made it a crowning jewel of your community,” Rigby wrote in a letter to fairgrounds officals.

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