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Old Fairgrounds future use discussed at county meeting

The old county fairgrounds was a topic of conversation at the county commissioners latest meeting on Nov. 13 in El Reno. (Photo by Jacob Sturm)

By Jacob Sturm
news@mustangpaper.com

Canadian County’s relatively new Expo and Event Center has become the place for many county
events sure to draw the public, and with that emergence comes questions about a related
property the county has relied on in the past.

That property is the old fairgrounds located at 220 N. County Club.

On Monday morning, county officials gathered for the Board of County Commissioners meeting
in El Reno and offered input on the management and future use the old fairgrounds will have
since the Expo and Event Center has taken some of that use away.

Currently the responsibility for upkeep and maintenance has been joined with the Expo and
Event Center, under the direction of Mandy Davis. District 2 commissioner David Anderson did
mention the county is aware of the problems having multiple fairground locations has on
existing members of the county staff.

Anderson said there was an interested party that is associated with truck driver training who
was interested in purchasing part of the property.

Tomas Manske confirmed in the discussion that the property includes the Extension Office, the
Educational Building, the Fairgrounds (where the animals are housed), the storage building and
a Greenhouse as part of what is on the 7-acre piece of land.

“I know one thing, like you’ve said, I’ve talked to Mandy also and it does create some
challenges as far as the back and forth, keeping it mowed, keeping it going,” Manske said. “They’ve done a really good job of getting the new facility going, and it’s hard enough to keep it
going much less getting over here to maintain it and the bookkeeping.”

Manske voiced an interest in the county continuing to lease it out.
Anderson said the county has provided the meeting places for the OSU groups, and said he
wanted the building on the old fairgrounds property to continue with that as the primary use.

He then said he didn’t see the building as the long-term OSU Extension campus.

Kyle Worthington then explained the issues with the custodial staff having to come in and make
the building look presentable to maintain the expectations people have when they rent out the
building.

He also mentioned the alcohol some groups may bring. For those who are bringing alcohol to
those events, a certified officer is supposed to be present. Unfortunately, groups have not
followed that instruction in the past, making the situations hard to manage.

Undersheriff Kevin Ward also spoke to the conversations he had with Davis regarding those
situations. He mentioned the issue being the number of deputies available when the events
happen.

The doesn’t help enforce the rules when those bookings at the old fairgrounds involve alcohol,
or when the sheriff’s office could do drive-bys of the property.

Ward suggested those renting out the property can hire security that needs to be present.

“It doesn’t put a burden on the taxpayers,” Ward said. “If that happens, the people won’t even
use the facility to pay for that requirement if there’s alcohol.”

Davis mentioned there have been 83 events at the old fairgrounds in the past six months. She
said the county has lost $11,877.00 for the facility from January through October.
Discussion also shifted to ways the county can prevent issues and make the process
manageable.

Anderson said his perspective of the situation is that the county justification to put an
investment in for a facility like the old fairgrounds is based on what it can bring in terms of
economic impact to the county.

The county could not take any actions regarding the old fairgrounds since the item was only
listed as for discussion.

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