It is no secret that county fairs are able to survive and in
some cases thrive thanks to the community volunteers who donate their time and
labor. In some cases, the contributions by community members goes even
Those involved with the McHenry County Fair are well aware
of the generosity of their volunteers. For the 2012 fair and again for this
year’s fair, which will be held July 31 through Aug. 4, a memorial barn has been
built thanks to not only monetary donations, but donations of all kinds of
materials and equipment to get the buildings constructed.
Last year, a new swine barn was built in memory of three
4-Her’s — Grant Fruin, Kevin Ziller, and Jennifer Kearns.
“Those three young 4-Hers lived close to each other and
their families are friends,” explained Ken Bauman, president of the board of
directors for the McHenry County Fair.
Recently, the George Dahm Memorial Beef Barn was completed
in time for the beginning of this year’s fair. A special dedication ceremony is
planned for the opening day of the fair.
“My dad was active in volunteering at the fair, so our
family decided we wanted to do something to memorize his activities at the
fair,” said Chris Dahm, the son of George Dahm. “Our family started the fund
with a donation, but it has been a real big effort from so many people who have
donated time, money and materials for this barn.”
Dahm thought it might be an uphill battle to get the barn
“But we were surprised and excited that the whole community
responded so graciously,” he noted.
As work on the building began, companies and individuals
began making donations of sod, gates, mulch, gutters and about anything else
that was needed, Bauman said.
And it didn’t stop there. Companies also brought loaders,
backhoes and skid loaders to work on the building site.
The gates and posts were custom-designed for the building,
and they are all removable. The barn will hold 183 head of cattle.
There is space for six rows of cattle, in 8-foot deep stalls
with 8-foot alleyways. Bauman reported beef entries, in turn, are up 15 percent
to 20 percent this year.
The goal is for the fully-enclosed barn to be a
multi-purpose building for events throughout the year.
“And the fair might change 10 to 15 years from now as
agriculture gets replaced by suburban, so we are also thinking of the future,”
“Without our volunteers, our fair would be struggling like
many other county fairs,” Bauman stressed.
The fair board already is considering the addition of a
pavilion-style building that will include a catering kitchen, restrooms and a
shower facility. This building will seat up to 200 people and also be heated and
air-conditioned, so it can be utilized throughout the year.
“Our fair board does not just sit back, they make things
happen, and they are not just thinking two or three years out,” the fair
president said. “They are looking long term.”
And the board’s vision doesn’t stop there. The group also is
planning to re-erect the grandstands that were taken down 20 years ago and
provide seating for 3,000 people.
I am impressed by the outpouring of support by the members
of this community for these projects at the county fairgrounds. These folks know
how to make a difference in their community.