A campaign to raise $1.2 million to restore the Douglas County Fairgrounds’ oldest building got a nod of approval from the Douglas County Board of Commissioners Wednesday.
Fairgrounds Director Harold Phillips said the Pavilion Building needs a new roof and other improvements. He hopes to have the money raised and renovations done in time for the 2014 fair and the 60th anniversary of the pavilion’s completion in 1954.
Phillips said the Pavilion Building has been used by five generations of Douglas County residents. The first Ricketts Revue, a homegrown talent show for musicians and dancers, was held there 60 years ago. Many have shown and sold their lambs, steers and swine in the Pavilion’s arena. FFA, 4-H clubs, the Douglas County Mounted Posse and the Roseburg Dairy Goat Association are among those who bring their animals to the Pavilion Building every year.
All that use has taken its toll. The arena’s animal pens and panels are old and in such poor repair they may cause injury to animals or to their young owners, Phillips said.
He said some changes are needed to bring the kitchen into compliance with current building codes. Building a wheelchair ramp will solve a Catch-22 that event organizers face whenever the kitchen is used. The only wheelchair-accessible entrance is a door between the arena and the kitchen. Health officials complain airborne pathogens may enter the cooking area if the door is left open. If it is closed, the kitchen does not meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Pinnacle Engineering of Roseburg drew up plans for the renovation and estimated its cost two years ago, Phillips said.
Though the county commissioners took no formal action Wednesday, all three expressed support for the project. Commissioner Susan Morgan said she thought the county should chip in around $500,000 if the rest can be raised from private donations and grants.
She said the livestock shows and auctions are important for kids who learn “what being an entrepreneur is really all about.”
“That is so critical to the future of our country and our nation,” she said.
Phillips said he believes the community will rally behind the pavilion project.
“We’re pretty confident we’re going to get to the $1.2 million,” he said in an interview Tuesday.
The capital campaign seeks individual donations ranging from $5,000, called the “white ribbon” level, to $100,000, called the “gold ribbon” level.
It also seeks grant funding for the project.
“We’ve been casting a wide net to various foundations across the state,” said Carma Mornarich, director of the Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation and a member of the capital campaign board.
She said she hopes to see the community come together to “restore the glory” of the old Pavilion Building.
Other board members include local farmers and representatives of the timber industry, Rotary Club and the local office of the Oregon State University Extension Service.
OSU Extension Service Regional Administrator John Punches said Wednesday Douglas County’s fairgrounds complex is one of the best in the state and benefits many young people.
“There’s a great energy around this and a lot of enthusiasm,” said Punches, who is based in Roseburg and oversees the Extension Service in southwestern Oregon.
Commissioner Doug Robertson contrasted the fairgrounds’ successes with the dire straits of those in nearby counties. Josephine County’s may close and the future of Jackson County’s is unclear, he said.
“Here, we’re talking about revitalizing, bringing back activities, increasing (them). That historically has been the direction our fairgrounds has been going,” Robertson said.
Longtime Roseburg resident Roy Nelson told commissioners he had a different reason for speaking in support of the pavilion project.
“Every child that this helps, they grow a goat, they grow a chicken, they get to go to the fairgrounds — they’re not doing drugs,” he said.
• You can reach reporter Carisa Cegavske at 541-957-4213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.