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Maintenance of Pierce County Fairgrounds more than just routine before 2014 fair

Heidi Webb and Libby Feuker of Elmwood painted a fairgrounds map on the side of a storage building as part of this year's improvement projects. Photo by Bill Kirk.

There are always buildings and grounds projects to be done at the Pierce County Fairgrounds.

“It’s just part of routine maintenance,” said Groundskeeper Ken Hines, who’s assisted by a crew of eight volunteer youths.

However, some of the efforts are more extensive than others. For example, this year a new foundation is being installed under a portion of the Round Barn, one of the grounds’ most unique structures, Hines said. One hundred twenty-five feet of poured wall has bolstered the foundation on the building’s west side.

“The old foundation was shifting,” he said, noting Plummer Concrete of Ellsworth was involved with the replacement.

Likewise, a new retaining wall is being added in front of the grandstand, according to the groundskeeper. The wall is poured in place along a site where guard rail previously stood.

“It’s a safety issue,” he said.

Also at the grandstand area, four new gates have been introduced at the water tower entrance, Hines said. This will allow for better access to the area by horse event participants, as well as truck, tractor and demo derby personnel, he said. The steel gates are 20 feet wide.

“I’ve always thought this would be a good idea,” he said about the additional gates.

The groundskeeper said the cattle arena is being renovated and the horse barn repaired. The former, built in 1977, is getting new fasteners to eliminate leaks. Into an arena measuring approximately 150 feet long and 100 feet wide have gone over 5,000 screws. As for the latter’s roof, leaks are also being fixed.

The south side of the Seyforth Building, originally built in 1978 and once housing a school for the learning disabled, has been covered with new steel siding, he said. The sides of the 50-by-150-foot structure feature stucco. Today, the premises are home to the fair office year-around.

“All of the projects are done on rotation,” he said, mentioning ongoing mowing and painting.

Among the latter jobs has been a new mural painted on the side of a storage building, Hines said. It depicts a map of the fairgrounds; the artwork previously there had deteriorated from years of weather and wear. Also about storage, eight buildings on the grounds are used all year long for such rental purposes, he said. Owners of large campers and motor homes up to 40-feet long, boats and antique vehicles can take advantage of these facilities in the period from Oct. 1 to April 25 annually. Quarters ranging from the new exhibit building opened last year just east of the Seyforth Building to the Drewiske Barn contain the public’s property over the late fall, winter and early spring months.

“It’s first come, first served,” he said, adding, “we’ve had to turn people away.”

Maintaining and upgrading the fairgrounds is aimed at more than the fair itself, the groundskeeper said. The place hosts a wide variety of events, like dog training and horse training for kids, Polka Fest, the old car club show, school gatherings and more.

“A lot of things go on here,” he said.

Bill Kirk

Bill Kirk was editor of the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth, from 1988 to February, 2015 and is now on staff as a reporter. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He previously worked in the media distribution department at the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus and is past editor of The Tri-County News in Osseo, Wisconsin.

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