Water project paves way for fairgrounds pavilion

Monroe Street in front of the Elkhart County Fairgrounds is closed this week for a water main installation project.

GOSHEN — A major water line project at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds will lay the groundwork for a new show pavilion on the east side.

The installation of a 12-inch main started this week, extending the line down Hillcrest Drive and across Monroe Street to the fairgrounds. It's the first part of a water loop that incoming Fair Board President Trent Hostetler said will provide fire protection for a new pavilion in the near future.

He said the $512,000 water project is something fair organizers have been saving up for for years. Part of the money is also going toward storm water drainage improvements.

Planning for the pavilion is still in the early stages, he said, and the fair board wanted to ensure the infrastructure was in place first. He said most of the water pressure is on the west side, and there's not enough pressure to run a fire sprinkler system in a building as large as they need on the other side of the property.

"We have a desire to put up a new show pavilion on the east side of the fairgrounds, though we're not ready to announce the location," Hostetler said. "The problem is that there's not enough water pressure currently to provide fire protection on any building that size."

Plans call for a building that could be big enough for two show rings for larger animals like beef, dairy or sheep. Hostetler said the problem the fair often runs into by having only a single ring is that a show can be delayed if the one before it runs long.

"The dairy feeder goes to 1 or 2 a.m. sometimes," he said. "This is so 4-H'ers are not having to show so late in the evening."

He said the pavilion could be used for other events throughout the year too.

The first stage of water line installation should wrap up after the first week of November. Beyond that, Hostetler said the end date of the overall project is uncertain.

"We were hoping to be done with the whole project by Thanksgiving," he said. "We're not sure if it's still gonna make it."

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