By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – With an eye to the annual Canadian County Free Fair in a new venue, the county’s nine-member fair board is preparing for a busy spring and summer.
Three members are starting new three-year terms and the board is preparing for its annual officer elections.
Current officers are Yukon’s Kelly Beck as chairman, Calumet’s Dan Wedman as vice chairman and El Reno’s Clint Reuter as treasurer.
Fair board members must “roll up their sleeves” more than ever in 2021 as they prepare to open a new county fairgrounds’ complex, according to Canadian County Fair Board Secretary Brad Tipton.
“There’s a lot of work ahead with this fair board,” Tipton said.
The $15.2 million Canadian County Fairgrounds & Event Center is being constructed on a 50-acre site at Jensen and Alfadale roads just south of Interstate 40 near El Reno.
The facility is expected to open in early July – and the 67th Annual Canadian County Free Fair will be Aug. 23-28 at this new venue.
“We’ve never done our fair at this new facility,” Tipton emphasized. “It won’t be the ‘same old thing’ at the ‘same old place’. We’ll be adapting to a new facility, and it will take effort on the fair board’s part.
“It will take a fair or two to get organized and used to a new way of doing business.”
Canadian County Commission Chairman Jack Stewart offered props to Lingo Construction, the construction manager for the new fairgrounds’ project.
“They’re really doing a great job,” said Stewart, the District 3 commissioner. “They will be close to the budget and finish ahead of schedule.
“Our goal was to have it ready for the fair in August, and it looks like we’ll be in there two months before that.”
The Canadian County Fair Board will have five regularly scheduled meetings in 2021.
“We’re also going to have to have some special meetings because of the logistics of moving to a new facility,” Tipton said. “A lot of things are going to change out there.”
The new Canadian County Fairgrounds & Event Center is expected to host much more than the annual county fair and local FFA and 4-H competitions.
Fair board officials expect the expo center will regularly house special events like horse shows, rodeos, concerts, graduations, and more.
“It’s already been booked starting July 4 through September,” Commissioner Stewart said. “Nathan Smith is doing exactly what we hired him for.”
Smith is the director and marketing manager of the Canadian County Fairgrounds & Event Center.
Proponents of building a larger Canadian County fairgrounds’ complex say the county simply outgrew its current site on N Country Club Road.
“People have wanted this since I came here in 1990,” Tipton said. “Everybody’s excited to get into the new facility.”
Construction of Canadian County’s new fairgrounds is being funded through county use tax revenues.
Other county fair board members are: Michael Beard of Calumet, Justin Atkinson of El Reno, Ken Carpenter of Mustang, Phil Carson of Yukon, Brent Hunt of El Reno, and Mike Crowly of Calumet.
Beck, Reuter and Crowly are all starting new terms.