ALPENA - The Alpena County Fair Board has been working diligently alongside 4-H and many Alpena organizations to enhance the stability and beautify the fairgrounds. There have been many renovations and improvements to the barns, new cages have been arranged for animal display and pea gravel has taken the place of many of the dirt paths around the barns to keep the area cleaner.
"We took the wooden cages out of the rabbit barn,"Caitlin Borke said. "We put gravel in place of dirt so there will be less dust and will hopefully eliminate the dirt in the duck and geese ponds."
Borke has been working with other members of the 4-H Club to get the grounds and barns ready for the upcoming Alpena County Fair starting Aug. 2 and running through Aug. 11.
Fair Board President Jerry Bleau said the construction and improvement projects have been going on for over a month to prepare the grounds not only for the county fair, but also for the HOG Rally this weekend. Board members have been stabilizing the grandstands and repainting all of the blockwork to make it more appealing.
"The whole project started with beautification," Bleau said. "We noticed things were falling apart and we needed to make it safer. The county and the community has really helped a lot with the many projects we've been working on. We're working on long-term improvements and a plan to expand the services here."
Everyone involved in improving the grounds has been volunteering their time and efforts to repaint the buildings, rebuild lean-tos, add steps to steep walkways, plant flowers and vegetables and install new cages in some of the barns.
"The Alpena County Horseman's Club helped plant a lot of the flower pots," Bleau said. "A majority of the paint for the buildings was donated by WATZ and the county helped pay for some of the paint, Brushes and Blooms and Heritage Acres donated plants, ProBuild donated the lumber for the steps, Minton Cedar Post donated the posts next to the barns to help stop parking against the barns and help keep the kids safe and Yockey Excavating and Alpena Aggregate donated the gravel and peastone. It really has been a community effort and we have had a lot of generous donations."
Bleau said more than 75 volunteers have worked on the renovations.
"Wes Wilder, the maintenance superintendent for the county and the fairgrounds keeper, has done a wonderful job with everything here and has been helping us with the improvements," he said.
Bleau hopes the hard work of all the volunteers will encourage the community to come enjoy the grounds.
"We really want to show the community that we're working to make the grounds better for them," he said. "Hopefully more people will come participate and help. It's great to see the smiles on the kids faces when they enjoy the fair."
Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.