Trust gives $100,000 to Pike fairs

Posted: Mar. 18, 2013 11:02 am Updated: Apr. 8, 2013 3:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

PITTSFIELD, Ill. -- The Western Illinois Fair Board met not long ago to talk about all the repairs needed for the livestock barns.

How to pay for the project got $50,000 easier thanks to the Richard L. Gray Perpetual Charitable Trust.

The trust awarded that funding to the board of the Griggsville-based fair and another $50,000 to the Pike County Fair Board based in Pleasant Hill.

"It's just really kind of like somebody's watching over us," said Lynn Freeman, executive secretary of the Western Illinois Fair. "We're just tickled to death."

Plans call for electrical upgrades to the barns, repairing storm damage to a roof and other improvements -- with most of the work hopefully done in time for this year's fair.

The fairgrounds hosts the county's 4-H fair, along with FFA livestock judging events throughout the year. Freeman said the gift is "a blessing" because fairs are facing state funding cuts.

Pike County Fair Board President Debbi Winchell said the trust's gift will fund improvements to the fairground's animal facilities.

A multi-year project converted one horse barn into a covered arena and put up a new announcer's stand, but improvements still were needed to the horse stalls. The gift will fund that work and upgrades to other barns.

The board will meet today to make project plans.

"This is an excellent opportunity for the animal show people to have better facilities to take care of their animals," Winchell said. "It will be a nice improvement."