The red-framed pens lined up from one end to the other, four rows full of goats and sheep being tended to on a warm summer’s evening by hot, anxious 4-H’ers and their families.
It didn’t take long to break in the new sheep and goat barn at the 95th annual Wayne County Fair, as space quickly filled up with a growing number of participants in the sheep and goat sows on the Wayne County Fairgrounds. More than 40 sheep and goats were able to enjoy the shade and break in the newly-constructed building.
Kevin Davis, president of the Wayne County Fair Board, said the new building was constructed with part of the building the Wayne County Fair purchased from the Nebraska State Fair after it was moved from Lincoln to Grand Island several years ago.
“We got close to 1,000 foot of building from the state fair and we’ve made very good use of it,” he said. “We actually had to add some more pens up there, and we were able to get six more in and get it all done.”
The 260-foot sheep and goat barn has a cement padding and provides enough space for more than 40 pens, constructed with open walls to allow for consistent air flow that helps keep the animals cool. With one of the beef barns sitting adjacent to the new sheep and goat facility, it also provides some additional air flow for that building.
Davis said the Wayne County Fair Board has made good use of the building they brought back from the old state fairgrounds.
“We used about 240 feet of it for the horses, 260 for the hogs and the sheep, so we’ve gotten a lot out of that building,” he said. “It’s been an ongoing project, and this new building looks beautiful and there’s a lot of air movement in the buildings, so it took a lot of work and a lot of people pitched in to get those put up.”
The new sheep and goat barn was the latest addition to what has been something of a building renaissance on the fairgrounds. A new facility was constructed near the horse arena a few years back and new fencing to the west and south of the grandstand has found its way to other areas of the fairgrounds.
“We put that (horse facility) up about five years ago, and it’s been a big help for the people who camp up on the hill (on the north side),” he said. “We have restrooms and showers in there, and the 4-H runs the concessions on the east side, so it’s been a really nice addition in that part of the fairgrounds.”
Davis said the Wayne County Fair Board is always looking at updating old buildings or building new structures, based on feedback they get from people who utilize the buildings each summer during the county fair.
“It takes a lot of money to make it work, and we take the money we make from the fair, some taxpayer support and grants that we receive and put it to good use. We ask people if they want something changed or somebody might come up with a suggestion, and we put that into our five-year plan and work from there.”
Davis said the fair board has some long-term plans for future projects on the fairgrounds, and while those have yet to be announced, he said the construction is all geared toward making the Wayne County Fair a better experience for everybody.
“The new buildings look nice and we’ve gotten a lot of compliments from people and their families,” he said. “They really like it and have an interest in it, and if it keeps the kids coming back every year, it’s nice to keep that all going.”