CALDWELL — The Canyon County Fairgrounds could look a lot different in the coming years with the proposed addition of a new fair expo building, additional parking, practice soccer and football fields and a nearby first-class track facility.
At a special meeting Monday night, county officials, fair board members and Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas presented a development plan for the fairgrounds. The presentation came after almost a year of meetings between commissioners, Caldwell Night Rodeo officials, fair board members and city officials, who began working on the plan in January.
The new plan was created to alleviate issues with county fair facilities, as well as better utilize fair space, according to fair director Diana Sinner.
Many of the proposed upgrades are intended for multi-purpose use among all of the entities.
In late October, County commissioners approved the preliminary plans to construct a new 35,000 to 45,000-square-foot building at the fairgrounds on the corner of the Caldwell Events Center property, near the South Georgia Avenue curve.
Commissioners issued a formal request for qualified firms to design and build a steel “Fair Expo Building” for no more than $1.6 million. Responses are set to come in Tuesday morning, according to Paul Navarro, the county’s facilities director.
The new building is tentatively scheduled for completion before the fair begins on July 25, 2019.
“We think it’s very wishful thinking, but we’re going to try,” Navarro said in the meeting.
Nancolas offered the city’s help to try and make that date a reality.
The expo building will be used for events, exhibits and concerts year-round and during the fair. Sinner said the new building would allow for more free space in the O’Connor Field House, especially for 4-H and FFA exhibitors.
The fair’s concert venue will eventually be relocated to a grassy area with a temporary stage on the opposite side of the lot from where the new building will go, which will open up the Caldwell Night Rodeo stadium for other fair events and vendors.
“We like our concerts in the rodeo arena because we have all of that open seating, but they are hot and they are dusty and we really liked back before when concerts were on grass,” Sinner said.
There is a creek that winds through the middle of the property, which Navarro said the county hopes to capitalize on and try to replicate what the city has done to restore the Indian Creek downtown.
“It’ll be nice to have something very aesthetic at the fair,” Navarro said.
A new parking lot is proposed on the “underutilized,” city-owned property along S. 21st Ave, just across the train tracks and north of Stock Trail Road.
The proposed lot would include RV parking and a walking path along the creek that will connect back to S. 21st Avenue and allow pedestrians safe access to the fairgrounds.
“This seems to be agreed upon I think by all entities that parking is necessary, a walking path is a good thing,” Nancolas said.
To alleviate danger near the train tracks, the city will put up a fence.
Nancolas said there have been discussions about paving the parking lot near the existing fair building, but no decision has been made due to concern about animals walking along that may wear it down.
It is also proposed that 22nd Avenue be closed during the fair and other larger activities to eliminate conflict between vehicles and pedestrians.
There has been discussion about obtaining a cover for Simplot Stadium to make it a usable space for more than just football and soccer, however Nancolas said there have been some concerns about storage and cost.
Although there is no firm plan, Nancolas said the rodeo is looking at ways to increase seating capacity in the arena.
The College of Idaho is requesting to operate out of a “dome-type” building near the stadium that would be used for indoor practice and a space for visiting teams during halftime. The city-owned building includes restrooms and showers, which the city would operate.
Proposed grass practice football and soccer fields are in the plans to allow for more parking space during event times.
The College of Idaho is proposing a first-class track facility near the fairgrounds that would include a soccer field, with a track field around it and space for other field events. The intent would be that it is used as an economic tool, according to Nancolas.