Fair board looking to build new facility

 The Rainy River Valley Agricultural Society is seeking support—and funds—to build a new multi-use facility at the fairgrounds in Emo.
    “The exhibition hall is in sad shape and, even though there’s been a lot of work done on the 4-H building, none of the buildings on the fairgrounds are in very good shape, with the exception of the barns,” noted RRVAS president Emily Watson.
    She said she’s been to the Dryden fair and they have a multi-use facility there.
    “It’s a wonderful facility,” Watson enthused. “It’s a huge building and it’s got room in it for all the exhibitions. It has washrooms that are handicap accessible and it has kitchen facilities.
    “It’s just a really, really nice building.”
    She added the RRVAS would like to have a similar building at the Emo fairgrounds but admitted it’s a long planning process.
    “It’s a long haul,” she stressed, adding with applications, blueprints, and funding, it will be—at the very least—a year before they could have the new facility.
    The RRVAS currently is asking for letters of support from district municipalities to apply for funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
    “We’ve also applied to AgriSpirit—we applied last year and were denied,” Watson said. “We applied to Celebrate Ontario and were denied, but we just keep applying every time they have their application process open hoping to get some funding.”
    She explained the RRVAS itself doesn’t have a great deal of money and that it’s expensive to keep the buildings at the fairgrounds up and running.
    Last year, much of the society’s money was spent on upgrading the electrical system there.
    “We had an electrical inspection and we had to redo it all, and that cost us over $25,000—it was a huge hit,” Watson noted. “Everything is up to snuff now with the electrical part of it, but we would really like to see a year-round type of facility.”
    Watson indicated it could be rented out for events during the year or, at the very least, it could be rented out for storage in the winter months like they currently do now with some of their buildings.
    “So at least it wouldn’t be sitting empty in the winter,” she reasoned.
    If it goes ahead, the new building would be located inside the fence along Colonization Street. The buildings currently there would be demolished, as well as the exhibition hall and washrooms.
    “We would include a space for the 4-H group in the facility because once we tear down the exhibition hall, then the 4-H would be the only building sitting out there on its own,” Watson explained.
    “They would have their own area in the new building with a display area and an area for cooking.”
    Watson stressed a multi-use facility also would be beneficial during the fair should inclement weather arise.
    “We’re famous for not having good weather,” she noted. “There have been years where we’ve had absolute downpours and people have gotten drenched.
    “In fact, when I was in Dryden, they had a huge rain storm and everyone went inside the building.”
    At this stage of the process, the RRVAS is doing up drawings of the proposed facility and trying to incorporate everyone’s wishes into it.
    “So everyone gets what they need . . . besides 4-H, we have other groups that we would rent space out to.”
    The RRVAS would like to see support from district residents—gladly accepting any donations people would like to make or volunteers who could offer their time to help out.
    “The fair is such a part of this area. It would be really sad if we were ever to lose it,” Watson lamented.
(Fort Frances Times)