Fair foundation hits goal for land acquisition

RICKREALL -- The plan to expand the Polk County Fairgrounds & Event Center just surpassed a major milestone.With the help of 111 donors, the Polk County Fair Foundation raised $120,000 to purchase 16 acres of land adjacent to the fairgrounds just ahead of its July 1 deadline.The land is located at the southeast corner of the existing fairgrounds property."Everything is final," Norbert Hartmann, the foundation's fundraising chairman, said last week. "We wrote our final check and the seller signed off, so the land is all county land now."The foundation had quietly been raising money for the expansion, but the official public appeal didn't get under way until last fall. That left the foundation with less than a year to gather the necessary funds before the sale price increased $1,000 per acre after July 1."I feel really good about the response we got from the people of the county," Hartmann said. "And I really appreciate the little gifts as much as I do the big gifts because that means that people contributed what they could contribute and saw some value in what we were doing."The 111 donors gave $100,500 to the effort, while the foundation contributed $11,000 in previously raised money. An $8,500 Polk County Economic Development grant approved in late June capped the effort. A list of the donors will be on display at the foundation's booth at the Polk County Fair this week. Norbert Hartmann The money was raised just under the wire, but Hartmann said he was confident the ambitious goal would be reached because a number of donors told him they would contribute more if the funding was falling short."I knew we were going to make it happen because of their support," he said. "I really appreciate their support and really want to give them a big `thank you.' It wouldn't have happened without them."Hartmann said he looks at the campaign as only the beginning, as the foundation will likely be called upon again soon to raise money for new buildings on the fairgrounds.The next step in the process, though, is finalizing expansion plans. The Polk County Fair Board will have its "vision plans" on display during this week's county fair in Rickreall.Fair Manager Tina Andersen said with the land purchased the board is hoping for public input regarding additions to its facilities."It's a tiny bit of a relief, but there is a lot to do," Andersen said. "A lot of people donated to that land and want to see something done, so we have a lot of work ahead of us."

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