MOUNT VERNON — Through a partnership with the Community Foundation of Mount Vernon and Knox County, a group is working to ensure that future generations of junior fair participants will have a safe, attractive county fair.
Seven directors of the Knox County Senior Fair Board came together to create the Knox County Junior Fair Building Fund. It is a separate entity from the senior fair board with its own 501(c)3 designation.
“The fund is going to be used to make improvements to the junior fair buildings on the grounds,” said Brian Durbin, president of the building fund corporation. “Repair, replace, add on to; basically anything the committee decides it wants to fund.
“The key is Junior Fair,” he said. “We can't put a roof on the grandstand with that money.”
The fair board contributed $5,000 to the fund, and that initial $5,000 cannot be spent. Although final details are still being worked out, Durbin said the plan is to only spend 80 percent of any amount over and above the $5,000. Final details will include a contingency clause that in the event of a major project, more than 80 percent may be spent.
“We tried to lay the best foundation now so that in 30 years they have good direction,” said Durbin.
The seven directors will serve as an oversight board. A five-member committee will evaluate project requests: two Senior Fair Board members, the Junior Fair coordinator, one community member and one person representing commodity groups such as the Cattlemen's Association and goat and sheep associations. Committee members will serve staggered terms.
Each year, the chairman of each specie committee will submit projects to the committee. “[The committee] will prioritize them and decide which project or projects we can fund each year,” said Durbin. “The first of the year we'll ask for the first batch of requests. The first year we may only put out a few thousand dollars.
“We're hoping the kids during sale day will want to contribute,” he said. Youths who want to contribute a portion of their sale money to the building fund can do so through OSU Extension.
Community members can contribute to the fund through http://mvkcfoundation.org. Click on donate now, and then search for the Knox County Junior Fair Building Fund. Durbin said that everyone who donates will be recognized by name in the foundation's annual report.
Junior Fair buildings comprise the majority of the fairgrounds. “Our buildings are aging,” said Durbin. “We get so many compliments on our fairgrounds, but with financial conditions being tight, we can't do all of the things needed to maintain and improve them.”