BARN AGAIN: Northern Wis. State Fairgrounds Plan Big Upgrades
with a donation here, and a donation there, project is slated to be finished by 2023 fair season
The Northern Wisconsin State Fair's iconic Red Barn coliseum was determined to be unusable in April 2019 due to structural issues. But hold onto your horses (and sheep and cows) because the Barn Replacement Project is in full swing.
After 130 years on the fairgrounds, a portion of the Red Barn collapsed and the rest had to be torn down. The Fair Board thought it best to completely replace the barn area. There are four new barns slated for construction as well as a FEMA safe room, toilet, and shower building with a concession stand on the side.
The total needed for the project is roughly $6 million. While this number may seem daunting, 80% of this cost has already been met. But with $1 million still needed, the Fair Board is asking for donations for these new barns.
The new coliseum will be named the Custer Coliseum, thanks to the donation from Ken Custer over at Custer Farms. The Custer Coliseum will host two programs each month for continued agricultural education for the public.
“We’re creating an agricultural campus,” said Rusty Volk, executive director of the Northern Wisconsin State Fair. “If the public is not aware of why farmers do what they do, they’re not going to get any support.”
These barns will be important for the continuation of agricultural education and animal exhibition that has been part of the fairgrounds for generations. They’ll also play a role in the impact on the local economy and tourism that the fairgrounds have even when the fair isn’t running.
“The buildings have to change,” Volk said. “Because what’s here today is no longer relevant for tomorrow. Whether it be technology, whether it be storm sewers, water, or anything else; 90% of the infrastructure here has been replaced, except for the barn area.”
Volk estimates that the new barns will have an annual economic impact of nearly $20 million on Chippewa Falls.
A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 8 that will include the start of the construction, the unveiling of a new logo, a new website, and the complete rebranding of the State Fair. With enough support, the project is hoped to be completed before the 2023 State Fair, which will be the 125th edition of the fair.
When you donate, your family or business name will be displayed for many to see and for future generations to appreciate. To donate, you can reach out to Volk at firstname.lastname@example.org or (715) 723-2861, or visit the fair’s fundraising website. Any additional funds will be going toward updates to the Youth Exhibit Hall and the Horse Barn. The fair is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, making all donations tax-deductible.
“The sky is the limit when it comes to youth education in agriculture,” Volk said.