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Union County Fair Association: facilities being used year-round

The Union County Supervisors have begun hearing 2021 budget requests and updates

The Union County Fairgrounds in Afton as it looked in January 2018 is pictured. New construction of two barns had begun to replace the fair's old cattle, hog and sheep barns as well as the old show arena.
The Union County Fairgrounds in Afton as it looked in January 2018 is pictured. New construction of two barns had begun to replace the fair's old cattle, hog and sheep barns as well as the old show arena.

Much of Monday’s Union County Supervisors meeting was taken up by petitioners from various county organizations putting in their requests for the 2021 budget. The county’s 2021 fiscal year begins July 1. With this years’ changes from the state legislature adding a second public hearing, the budget must be prepared by the beginning of March.

Along with budget requests, come an accounting of the previous years’ successes and issues in order to justify the current needs. Nearly all of Monday’s speakers requested the same amount as their 2020 budget.

Union County Fair

Ben Adamson from the Union County Fair Association requested $25,000 — the same as the last four years. He updated the board on the construction project in progress at the fairgrounds, saying it is nearly finished with a reveal planned for February.

He also spoke of the success of the beer garden, which was open for the first time last year.

“The beer garden was, for lack of a better term, a huge success,” Adamson said.

It had approximately $14,500 in sales in four days without impacting the sales at the concession stand or creating disturbances, he said.

The fair board is looking into applying for a year-round liquor license so that alcohol sales can be made during weddings and other events hosted at the fair grounds.

“One of the reasons why we built these buildings was so they could be used year-round,” Adamson said. “It is.”

Three years ago, the facility was mostly used by the horse and rider club. Adamson listed eight activities, such as sales and conventions, that are scheduled to use the fair grounds this year between now and June with the possibility of a ninth, the All-Iowa Showdown, which could draw more than 1000 visitors in August.

“Hopefully it continues to get used,” he said. “You’re bringing in people from all over the state ... It’s bringing people to town.”

Adamson said these activities are helping with the goal of getting the fair board to be more self-sufficient.

“We want to get to a point where we don’t have to come to businesses and individuals,” he said. “If we can start making that money ourselves, then when we have another big project, maybe haven’t gone to the community for several years to ask, it will be a little easier to do that.”

After a question by supervisor Dennis Brown, Adamson also spoke about expanding the campground area, but said there isn’t enough space to do that without buying more land. He said that might be a project for the future, but it would need to wait until there is funding for purchasing land and to do the project correctly by adding water, sewer and upgraded electrical service.

4-H and related activities give youth in Union County opportunities to excel. Rick Friday mentioned the rise in small animal showings at the fair. Ron Riley added that it benefits youth who do not live on a farm and so do not have the space to participate in large animal programs such as cattle or horses.

“You know they don’t have access to that,” Riley said. “But they can have a cage and some chickens.”

“You guys’ve done a lot of good work out there and we appreciate that,” said Riley.

“We all do it because we believe in it,” Adamson said.

Other budget requests included:

• public funding for economic development for $19,058 from Wayne Pantini.

• MATURA for $9,000 from Ron Ludwig, executive director.

• Natural Resources Conservation Service for $16,097.51 from Mike Eblen, chairman.

The Union County Board of Supervisors meets weekly 9 a.m. Monday at the Union County Courthouse, 300 N. Pine St. The public is welcome to attend and may contact the auditor’s office at 641-782-1701 to request an item be added to the agenda.

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