‘It’s just a much nicer structure’ – Purple Ribbon Plaza makes its Mower County Fair debut

Published 8:08 am Thursday, August 8, 2019

Visitors to the 2019 Mower County Free Fair will notice a significant change from previous years.

The Purple Ribbon Plaza opened to fair goers this week. The new facility replaces the old Beer Garden after concerns were expressed about the old building.

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“Last winter, we had meetings with commissioners with the county and they recognized that our old Beer Garden had seen better days,” said 2019 Mower County Fair President Kevin Finley. “They were concerned with the safety of the facility and we were able to work out something that worked well for the Ag Society and the county to put together a new facility to fulfill some needs for folks in the county as well as the week of the Fair and offseason events.”

The new facility features a large open indoor space with tables and chairs for people to sit and relax or enjoy some fair food.

“We have a food court at the end of it that’s open for families all day long to come in and get out of the sun,” Finley said. “One thing you always need at the Fairground is a place to get out of the sun. We’re trying to provide that need.”

On the east end is an area for adults to purchase alcoholic beverages and custom-made Purple Ribbon Plaza can coolies. Next to it is a ticket stand where thirsty patrons can get beer tickets at three windows, one of which is handicap-accessible, as well as an ATM machine to get extra cash. Located in the corners are TVs for sports fans to take in a game.

Fair goers cool off in the shade at the new Purple Ribbon Plaza. Michael Stoll/mike.stoll@austindailyherald.com

Many of the items in the new facility were donated by local businesses.

“We had three 65-inch TVs that were donated by a local sponsor that is very active in the Fair,” Finley said, “They hang up in the corners, and as well as the Twins are doing this year, everybody likes to watch the Twins when they come in and they’re on in the evening. We have all new tables and seating. Another sponsor stepped up when they saw we had a need for them for the facility. They bought over $8,000 in new tables and chairs and donated them for us to use.”

Additional outdoor seating is available under a sunshade, also donated.

When it comes to a atmosphere, the Purple Ribbon Plaza is comfortable and efficient.

“There are a lot off nice features,” Finley said. “There is great ventilation; we’ve got great big doors open all the way around it and ceiling fans throughout the building to keep air moving so it’s never too muggy or hot. The lighting is dimmable. It’s all LED, so it’s very energy efficient compared to the old building.”

“It’s just a much nicer structure,” he added.

The only item the facility is lacking s indoor bathrooms.

“Next year we will get the bathrooms in here; we just ran out of time this year,” Finley said.

But despite having a bar area, Finley emphasized the Purple Ribbon Plaza is a community and family-friendly area.

“The big thing is for people to realize this fair is for our whole county and community,” he said. “That’s something we should all be proud of and this facility is here for many folks to take advantage of and use. That’s what we’re trying to provide.”