Committee discusses fairground future

Group hopes for public input, participation at meeting

LAKE COUNTY - It’s time to get things going.

Folks have been talking about what to do with the Lake County Fairgrounds for years.

It’s been a quite a while since the fairgrounds were used at all, and a considerable amount of time since they were made use of to full potential.

Now, after initial discussions and some organizational moves, things are going to get serious.

The first regular meeting of the official Lake County Fairgrounds Committee will be held Friday, at 10 a.m. in the Commissioners’ Room at the Lake County Courthouse.

“Basically, this is an organizational meeting for the board, but we really want people with an interest in the future of the fairgrounds to come and express themselves,” reported board member and county commissioner Scott Williams.

“First things first, we need to figure out in what direction we expect to go with any project that may be suggested for the fairgrounds.

“We need to decide where we are headed, and what we hope to do with this property.”

Williams and others have been discussing the future of the fairgrounds for more than a year - hoping to bring about change at the fairgrounds which have lain unused for too long.

“There has been a lot of discussion and a lot of questions asked with regard to what would happen out there, (at the fairgrounds.)” explained Williams in an earlier interview.

As a result, a group formed to see what kind of steps could be taken to make the fairgrounds a valued asset.

In Lake County the fairgrounds is county property under the direct control of the Board of Commissioners. An informal committee, with Williams representing the Commission, has been meeting since August.

The group has been working closely with Susan Dennis, from the USDA, who is advising the Lake County team with regard to applying for grant funding. Dennis will be on hand for Friday’s session.

“Based on what our team decides to do, Ms. Dennis will be able to help steer us in the right direction when it comes to looking for funding for this project,” explained Williams.

Serving on the new committee are Williams, Seth Hopkins, representing the MSU Extension Service and 4-H, Webber Township Supervisor Tony Gagliardo, Sandy Crandell, past president of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce, and Lake County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Dave Dagan.

On one end of the spectrum, the fairgrounds could be shut down and sold into private hands. This is the least desirable option,” Williams said.

On the other hand, the fairgrounds could be resurrected as an important resource serving the youth of Lake County as it did in years past.

“We would hope to see the fairgrounds property used by the youth of this county through an active 4-H program - or whatever the community wants to see at that site,” continued Williams.

Williams hopes members of the public will attend the session.

“It takes the people of any community to really move community projects forward,” he pointed out.

“The first thing we need to deal with is the old building. Do we tear it down, renovate it, or ...what?

“There’s a lot to decide.”