Fairground Facelift winners

Fairgrounds win Fairground Facelift grants

Six fairground improvement projects will receive a total of $7,500 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.

Grinnell Mutual received nearly 50 fairground project submissions from 13 states. Fairground supporters then cast nearly 11,000 votes for their favorite projects among the 15 finalists. The six winning recipients shared a total of $7,500 worth of grants and were chosen based on the number of votes received.

Learn more about Fairground Facelift

2021 Fairground Facelift winners

Grand prize — $3,000

Emmet County Agricultural Show, Estherville, Iowa

Emmet County Agricultural Show in Estherville, Iowa, with 2,542 votes, is the grand prize winner and will receive the $3,000 grant to build a shaded picnic-table area with a back kitchen to replace the current 60-year-old food shed.

“The current shed is old and beyond repair,” said project sponsor Jennie Knudson. “The grant will help us update the Snack Shack Eating Area, making it accessible to everyone at the fair and an inviting place from which to stop and enjoy the fair.

“I appreciate that Grinnell Mutual values fairs and thought of the wonderful idea to offer an opportunity for funds to help enhance fairgrounds. We appreciate their support!”

Knudson observed the power of word of mouth and social media about Fairground Facelift united people in a common cause.

“I felt like Fairground Facelift brought people from across our county together,” said Knudson. “Kudos to our community!”

Runners-up — $1,500

Miami County Fairgrounds, Troy, Ohio

The Miami County Fairgrounds will repair dilapidated bleacher seating in the horse arena and upgrade the sound system in the announcer’s booth.

Tracy Andrews, 4-H advisor for The Lucky Horseshoes in Miami County, entered the horse arena Fairground Facelift after the club did arena cleanup at the fairgrounds. “I knew how rough our arena was and how the funds could help us with our goals.”

Two of Andrews’ daughters have been active in the 4-H club. She has seen how the bleachers sit empty during horse shows.

“Paint is peeling on the bleachers. They bounce when you walk on them and flying insects invade them, harassing anyone sitting there,” Andrews said. “We will fix our bleachers so that we have a great place for parents and community members to watch our kids.

“I would like to thank Grinnell Mutual for supporting Miami County Fairgrounds I would also like to thank the Miami County Horse Advisors, The Lucky Horseshoes 4-H Club, the Miami County 4-H Alumnae, the Miami County Fair, and the Miami County Farm Bureau for voting every day. Thank you all so very much!”

Osage County Fairgrounds, Linn, Mo.

The Osage County Fairgrounds will install a drainage system and concrete floor in the barn, which will help the pigs resist the temptation to wallow in the mud.

“Every year, Osage County Fairground exhibitors fight mud and muck in the hog and sheep barn,” said project sponsor Christine Rieke. “The fair had just ended and we had issues with drainage and dampness throughout the hog and sheep barn. We knew something needed to be done and decided to enter Fairground Facelift.

Activities at Osage County Fairgrounds are a family affair for the Riekes: Christine and her spouse, Albert, have been involved with the Osage County Fair for nearly 30 years. Their four daughters participate in livestock shows at the fairgrounds.

“First, I would like to thank Grinnell Mutual for the generous grant awarded to our local fairground and all other participants,” said Rieke. “This grant will reach so many young men and women who are upcoming leaders in the agriculture industry. Secondly, I would like to thank the outstanding support from our community, FFA clubs, and 4-H clubs. Their participation and numerous votes resulted in winning this grant.”

Honorable mentions — $500

Boone County Fairgrounds, Boone, Iowa

The Boone County Fairgrounds will make improvements to the rabbit barn, including upgrading the electrical and adding insulation.

Rabbit board members Jessi and Halle Heyer have led efforts to improve the rabbit barn on the fairgrounds. The first phase involved landscaping and a fresh coat of paint. The Fairground Facelift grant will support the next phase of improvements.

“The circuit breakers were tripping during our county fair,” said Jessi, who is also a 4-H leader and Halle’s mom. “Halle started planning for next phase, electrical and insulation in the barn. These upgrades supported by Fairground Facelift will help to cool the barn — not only for our rabbits, but fairgoers and the 4-H’ers that tend to their animals every day of the fair.”

Grant County Fairgrounds, Herman, Minn.

Grant County Fairgrounds will rewire the creative arts building.

“The electrical wiring in the building dates back to the 1950s,” said project sponsor Nicole Sumstad, who is a fair board member. “This grant is going to help us ‘light up’ a beautiful, old building. Upgraded electrical could help increase the number of exhibits and exhibitors while keeping the lights on and guests cool.”

Sumstad expressed gratitude for the support from everyone who voted for the project.

“This is an old building and people don't want to see it in such a dire state,” said Sumstad. “We cannot thank Grinnell Mutual enough for such a great opportunity.”

Shelby County Fairgrounds, Shelbyville, Ill.

The Shelby County Fairgrounds will replace rotted bathroom walls and floors.

“These are the only permanent bathroom facilities at the fairgrounds,” said Donald Telgmann, president of the Shelby County 4-H and Junior Fair board. “We need to make them more comfortable and accessible.”

His spouse, Kim, knew of the need because she had heard him talk about it after board meetings. She learned of the promotion from another parent in their program. “I’m so happy she sent our entry!” he said.

“Thanks to Grinnell Mutual for sponsoring these grants and for all the help we received from the Shelby County 4-H and Junior Fair parents, members, family, and friends that voted for our project!”

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