Funds sought for new State Fair 4-H building$4 million structure would replace existing one at South Dakota State Fairgrounds.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
HURON — Four organizations have begun planning for a $4 million 4-H building at the South Dakota State Fairgrounds. The State Fair Commission, 4-H Leader’s Association, State Fair Foundation and South Dakota State University Extension kicked off the effort on Labor Day.
The current Clover Hall on the state fairgrounds is in poor shape. Karen Lambert, a South Dakota 4-H Leader’s liaison and Artesian resident, said the front two-thirds of the building is unusable.
“The roof leaks, there’s no water to the building,” Lambert said. “The special foods contest was moved to Huron High School because the front of the building is not usable for it.”
The fashion revue and teen judging events were moved to other fairgrounds facilities.
Lambert said Clover Hall is 70 years old, if not older. The exhibit annexes to the south were built in the 1950s and are still in use.
Clover Hall needs a new roof, which would exceed $350,000, said Jerome Hertel, state fair manager. The roof leaks, which opens the possibility to mold, and the dormitories originally meant for extended stays by 4-Hers are unusable.
“It doesn’t have a fire suppression system in it, so it’s determined to be too risky to have kids staying in the facility overnight,” Hertel said.
When fundraising is complete and new construction begins, the entire complex will be demolished.
“The footprint of the building will go where the existing building is,” Lambert said. “It will have 33,000 square feet of exhibit space. The commissioners recognized the importance of having a new building.”
The preliminary plans for the new building also include a 1,935-square-foot kitchen, three large classrooms with dividers for presentations, office space for Beadle County Extension and two large public restroom areas, among other features.
Puetz Corp., of Mitchell, drew up preliminary plans and estimated the cost, said Hertel. But right now, the foundation, leader’s association, commission and Extension are requesting proposals from consulting firms to help with the capital fundraising and do a feasibility study, he said.
“Those firms will do some feasibility studies to determine the interest out there and the level of participation from support groups,” he added.
The group plans to have a building ready for the 2014 state fair. Lambert said 4-H supporters are enthusiastic about providing better accommodations for young people in South Dakota.
In the meantime, should the building be demolished during the 2013 State Fair, 4-Hers will likely be displaced again for activities.
“4-H is the cornerstone of the South Dakota State Fair. It brings in a lot of people,” Lambert said.
The building will not only be used for state fair exhibits, but also for 4-H activities year-round, she said.
Although 4-H has priority for use of the building, Hertel said other events can be held there.
“The idea is to make the building generate revenue for 4-H and the fair,” he said.
Any rent collected for use of the building will go back into the maintenance of the structure. To keep down costs, the preliminary plans do not include heating for the main arena in Clover Hall, but the offices and classrooms will be heated as they will be used year-round.
The biggest hurdle for the group to overcome is getting the Legislature to approve the project, Hertel said. Because Clover Hall is on state-owned land and will be state-owned, the Legislature must approve its construction, despite the fact no taxpayer dollars will pay for it.
Hertel said 4-H is a long-standing tradition at the South Dakota State Fair, having been part of the mission of the fair since its opening in 1885.
“I’m confident this will come together in the next few years,” he said. “There’s been a lot of support. … We’re very excited about this new building project on the fairgrounds.”