LIMA — With the largest crowd ever to see an entertainer at the Allen County fair virtually assured, country music fans who come to the fair on the evening of Aug. 17 to see artist Kane Brown will for the first time in the fair’s history be able to enjoy the concert with a cold brew in their hands.
Bob Fricke, fair general manager, said members of the fair board voted to allow the sale of beer within a fenced area on the grandstand infield during Brown’s performance. The board consented, he said, with the stipulation that all proceeds from the beer sales be used for future capital improvements on the fairgrounds.
“This is strictly a one-time thing for this single event,” Fricke said. “After the fair we’ll evaluate and see how things went. But concert attendees have been asking us for years to allow beer sales, so we thought we’d give it a try.”
Finding alternative sources of revenue is crucial for the future of the fair. The fair board formed a capital campaign committee to explore fundraising options in the absence of supplemental funding by the Allen County commissioners.
“We (the fair board) don’t have a line item in the county budget,” Fricke said. “In previous years the commissioners have given us some money, but this year there was no funding available.”
Since last year’s event the fairgrounds have seen $100,00 in improvements, ranging from a new roof on the dairy barn to new fencing in front of the grandstand and other aesthetic improvements.
Fricke said the fair board is turning to fundraisers to help generate money needed for future projects.
One fundraiser currently available allows individuals or businesses to “purchase” a metal bench for $500 with a plaque in memory of a loved one or featuring a small advertisement.
Fricke said several capital improvements are being considered at the fairgrounds. High atop that list is a “$3 (million) or $4 million expo hall or multi-purpose building.”