A grand debutPublished 11:16am Wednesday, August 7, 2013
A new Mower County Fair legacy officially opened Tuesday.
More than 30 county officials, Hormel Foundation officials and Mower County Fair board members celebrated the grand opening of the new Mower County Fair grandstand Tuesday afternoon.
“We’re very happy with the way things turned out,” County Commissioner Jerry Reinartz said.
Public figures gathered to celebrate the new 1,500-seat grandstand, which workers finished just before this year’s fair. The event caps more than a year’s work by county officials to replace the old grandstand, which at more than 75 years old was condemned in July 2012.
The Mower County Board of Commissioners voted to demolish the old grandstand last October. The Austin Fire Department offered to burn the grandstand to conduct a training exercise for area firefighters, which took place in February.
Though some residents initially resisted the idea of tearing down the old grandstand, the board decided to go ahead with building a new structure after hearing how much it would cost to preserve the old building.
“Safety comes first,” Commissioner Polly Glynn said.
The board decided to build a new, metal grandstand with a built-in sound system, a press box and red backing among other amenities. The grandstand cost about $700,000 to build, with $250,000 coming from foundation grants.
“What a wonderful day to be here experiencing Austin history,” said Gary Ray, executive director of the Hormel Foundation.
The grandstand will be in use all week, as annual events like motocross racing and demolition derbies take place. Though the old grandstand lasted for 75 years, fair officials believe the new structure should last for much longer.
“It’s pretty impressive,” said Fair Board President Neal Anderson. “It’s hard to believe it all went so smoothly.”