Foundation grant supports new show barn

A new all-species livestock show barn at the Allamakee County Fairgrounds is the site of much action and excitement this week as children and adults show off their skills with dogs, rabbits, poultry, swine, sheep, goats, and beef and dairy cattle. 

The barn, a focal point of the fair, is the result of support from many generous individuals and local funders. The Allamakee County Community Foundation made a $20,000 grant to support phase one of the project, which began with the demolition of an outdated dairy barn. 

“The Foundation awarded this grant to the fair board because we understand how important the fair is to families in Allamakee County,” says Betty Steege, Foundation coordinator. “The fair is a community tradition and it’s open to everyone.” 

“After the grant from the Community Foundation and the gifts from Waukon State Bank and FreedomBank, it really kicked off,” says Bobbi Baxter, fair board member. “It’s rewarding to see that kind of community support,” 

The new 14,000 square-foot show barn is the crowning glory of the renovations, including an area for concessions, ADA-compliant restrooms, a 4-H office, and bleacher seating. The former show barn has been converted into a cattle barn to accommodate the growing dairy program, the former cattle barn was relocated to hold goats and sheep, and the swine barn now has more space for pens. All 46 of the new sheep and goat pens are expected to be full for the fair this year. 

“An aging fairground combined with growing numbers in our dairy and swine programs have created a problem that we are excited to have,” says Baxter. “We expect lots of kids, families, full barns and humidity this week.” 

All youth livestock exhibitors will have the opportunity to showcase their livestock projects in this indoor show ring, with adequate space and safety for the youth, the animals, and the visitors who attend the shows.

“This project has really brought people together for a common goal,” says Baxter. “It has also sparked hope in the youth who enjoy and participate in the fair.” The fair board received support from local 4-H groups and FFA chapters, who donated the proceeds of their own fundraising events to the project. The project even inspired new ambition among fair board members, who enjoyed working together toward a shared vision. 

The Allamakee County Community Foundation offers many opportunities to improve quality of life by addressing an array of local issues. To learn more about how you can establish a fund or make a gift that impacts your community, contact Foundation Coordinator Betty Steege at 563-586-2046.