Fire engulfs the grandstand at the Mower County Fairgroundsin February as Austin and area fire departments burned the structure in a controlled burn.
Fire engulfs the grandstand at the Mower County Fairgroundsin February as Austin and area fire departments burned the structure in a controlled burn.

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Published 6:50am Wednesday, January 1, 2014

(8) Mower County burns down landmark fair grandstand

It took less than an hour for more than 75 years of history to go down in flames on Feb. 2, when area fire departments burned down the condemned grandstand on the Mower County Fairgrounds. Six months later, a new legacy began.

An engineer condemned the grandstand in July of 2012 — about a month before the fair — due to dry rot, and repairs proved too costly.

The county board, working with the fair board, opted to raze the old grandstand and start anew.

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 Hormel Foundation grants.

The Foundation approved the funds with stipulations. Foundation officials urged the county and fair boards to formulate a plan to increase the usage of the grandstand, especially outside fair week. The county and fair boards must report back annually to the foundation over the next five years about the usage of the grandstand.

On Aug. 7, the board celebrated the completion of a new 1,500-seat grandstand, which workers finished just before the 2013 fair.


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