Fairground Facelift 2019 winners

County fairgrounds win Fairground Facelift grants

Five fairground improvement projects will receive a total of $7,000 in grants through Grinnell Mutual’s Fairground Facelift initiative. The annual promotion gives county fairgrounds in Grinnell Mutual’s writing territory a chance to rally their communities and raise money to make improvements. 

The first place fairground, Sheboygan County Fairground in Plymouth, Wis., will receive $3,000 to build an addition for the rabbit and poultry barn and provide cages to house additional animals.

In recent years, the number of Sheboygan County 4-H poultry, rabbit, and cavy projects has swelled to more than 300 youth participants and outgrown the facilities available at the fairgrounds.

“This year, we had to call families two days prior to the fair and turn away more than 100 entries,” said Wendy Varish, a parent and volunteer with Sheboygan County 4-H.

The fairgrounds will use their grant to build a 30x65-foot addition to their poultry and rabbit barn scheduled to open in 2020.

“We thank Grinnell Mutual for this wonderful opportunity and for their dedication to ‘Small Town USA,’” said Varish. “We also thank all the Facebook friends and families of Sheboygan County.”

Grinnell Mutual received more than 140 project submissions from 13 states. Facebook users then cast more than 20,000 votes for their favorite projects among the 15 finalists. The five winning recipients shared a total of $7,000 worth of grants and were chosen based on the number of votes received.

“Fairground Facelift grants are another way Grinnell Mutual supports the towns where our customers live, work, and play,” said Barb Baker, director of advertising and community relations. “County fairgrounds celebrate family, friendship, and relationships — the things that matter. That’s why we want to be part of sustaining them for future generations.”

Four other county fairgrounds will each receive $1,000 toward their fairground renovation projects.

Buchanan County Fairground, Independence, Iowa

Buchanan County Fairground will receive $1,000 to purchase a digital sign to improve the marketing efforts of the fairground year-round.

“The fairground sits on a busy highway and we wanted to increase awareness where people drive every day,” said Molly Zmudka, fair manager. “FFA, 4-H, and so many other community groups use the fairgrounds for events and meetings.

“The community supports us in so many ways. People I didn’t even know came up and told me, ‘We voted for your grant!’ Now we can support them right back,” said Zmudka. “Thanks to Grinnell Mutual and all of Buchanan County for coming together and supporting us.”

Crawford County Fair, Cuba, Mo.

Crawford County Fair will receive $1,000 to improve the functionality of its cookshack.

“I work at FCNB (First Community National Bank), where we sell Grinnell Mutual insurance, so that's how I knew about the contest. My kids show livestock at the fair, we spend an entire week at the fairgrounds every year, and we also volunteer at the cookshack, said Peggy Alexander who submitted the project. “I knew how badly help for that was needed.”

The Fairground Facelift grant will provide funds for a new grill and an exhaust fan.

The benefits will be twofold,” said Alexander. “We'll have a more comfortable workspace and it'll help increase revenue. I'd like to thank everyone in the community who voted, and, of course, Grinnell Mutual.”

Jay County Fairgrounds, Portland, Ind.

Jay County Fairgrounds will receive $1,000 to remove dangerous debris from the horse and pony arena and cover the area with safe, suitable fill.

Alisha McClure, a 4-H parent, fair volunteer, and species superintendent for the Jay County Fairgrounds said the Fairground Facelift promotion helped spur interest in finally getting the fair's horse and pony arena upgraded.

“The arena area is fill dirt and full of rocks and debris. It's a hazard, and when it rains, it turns into a soup bowl,” said McClure. “Now we can cover the arena with what we call 'high-dollar sand.'”

She credits her daughter for sticking with the project over the years, pushing to get it done, and spreading the word to drum up votes.

“I've tried three times to get this done but have always fallen just short. Fairground Facelift motivated 4-H members and the fair board and now we have people involved who are willing to see it through.”

Marshall-Putnam Fairgrounds, Henry, Ill.

Marshall-Putnam Fairgrounds will receive $1,000 to install new doors on its Art Hall to protect exhibits. This is part of the 100th-anniversary renovation of the building.

“This grant will make it possible for us to begin updating our Art Hall. It will help us make repairs and give us a safe, secure building to display our culinary and textile exhibits,” said DiAnn Kuehn, the office manager of the Marshall-Putnam Fair. “Thank you to all our friends who showed their support by voting for us each day. And thanks to Grinnell Mutual for offering this grant.”