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Ideas circulate for use of old county fairgrounds

Pot holes appear outside of the bay doors of the old Canadian County Fairgrounds building. Commissioners are still determining purposes for the facility. Photo / Dacoda McDowell-Wahpekeche

Canadian County’s Fairground building is sentimental for many, Canadian County Commissioners Marc Hader and David Anderson agreed.
Plans with the older fairgrounds are in the air, as the Canadian County Expo Center plans to open and host an event next month.
The Canadian County Fairgrounds, 220 N Country Club Road, was built in 1955 after the land for the building was bought in 1954.
“I don’t know if we have determined specific plans yet,” Hader said. “I have put out quite a few ideas that I think are good possibilities. We’re managing both properties going forward. There may be events – I know it gets rented a lot for family reunions, small things like that.”
Hader said the fairgrounds could be beneficial to the municipality side of the county.
“We always have a challenge sometimes about how much jail capacity we have and the amount of inmates we have versus what we’re lawfully supposed to have,” he said. “I’ve suggested, maybe can we take out a small amount of money, go out and build out part of that facility into a dormitory-
style circumstance.”
Hader also noted Canadian County had to find other counties with space to transfer inmates because of the lack of space within the detention center.
“It would give us an overflow,” Hader said. “We’re operating pretty well with what we have. But sadly, over time, as we grow, those numbers will probably
go up.”
He said the inmates could have a large garden where they farm, eat their own food and with an excess, local pantries could benefit from the inmate-kept garden.
There are also talks of possibly making it a garage to keep maintenance up to date on the county’s cars.
Hader said the old fairgrounds would not be beneficial for the county to sell.
“If we sell it, we will probably reap some proceeds that we can use to put toward the new facility, but I don’t know that we get much benefit out of that,” he said.
Anderson said the Oklahoma State University Extension program could use a new office.
“The county extension offices are on our current campus over there,” Anderson said. “They need to be either upgraded, remodeled or just completely relocated.”
He added there are some good uses for the old facilities.
“It’s a more affordable venue than trying to rent the new expo center,” Anderson said. “They haven’t reached out to me, but the (El Reno School Ag Department) surely could use the livestock barns for their livestock program.”
There are also storage needs in the county that the old fairgrounds could help with, he said.
“The buildings out there are 50-60-year-old barns,” Anderson said. “We could remodel them inside to keep records, equipment or furniture the county has that needs to be stored.”
The idea of making a maintenance yard for the county’s vehicles is a good idea, as well, he said.
“I understand there’s a handful of people saying ‘Hey, those are my memories, that’s my legacy,’” Hader said. “I don’t want to see that go away. I don’t think the facility will go away. We may tweak or change something a little bit for purpose.”

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