LISBON - It was about celebration and gratitude Friday night as the Columbiana County Fair Board dedicated the Arnold C. Green Memorial Grandstand.
Close to 350 were on hand to get a sneak peek of the new grandstand, including the grandstand's numerous donors, which board President John Wolf felt was a tremendous response
"We couldn't have done this, any of this, without anyone that's here," Wolf said. "Everybody here has a big role in getting this project done. From the fair board to the individuals, we just couldn't have done it without everybody here."
Morning Journal/Patti Schaeffer
A giant thank you from the county fair board, in the form of a dinner, went out to all who donated funds and supplies to recent projects at the fairgrounds, including the new grandstand, press box, winner’s circle and the Health, Safety and Ticket Sales Building. The hard working fair board members and volunteers paused for a few hours Friday to enjoy the fruits of their labor and joined the donors in christening the new grandstand with a champagne toast. The sound system was tested for the first time on the crowd of just over 350 people as they became the first group to hold ceremony in and under the new grandstand.
Among the event's many attendees were county commissioners Jim Hoppel, Mike Halleck and Tim Weigle as well as Dr. John Green and John C. Green, the son and grandson respectively of the grandstand's namesake, Arnold C. Green.
The donation for naming rights came from the Green Family Trust, and was John C.'s way to pay tribute to his grandfather for spending time with him at the fair for many years.
"It's a great honor for my dad as well as for my son," Dr. Green said. "Grandpa used to bring his grandson here to the fair from the time he was six until the time he was 17."
Also recognized was The Hanover Farms Press Box, courtesy of a donation from the Zehentbauer family, and brothers Neil and Richard Zehentbauer noted the family's longtime dedication to the fair.
"We've always been very strong supporters of the fair," Neil said. "A lot of us in my family met our spouses through the 4-H programs, and my mom and dad met in 4-H, and we love our fair."
"We felt strongly it was a great project to do," Richard said. "We wanted to do something, and they gave us options, and we chose the press box. And it is an honor to do so."
Dick Wilk, a board member of Salem Regional Medical Center, donated the R.F. Wilk Family Winner's Circle, and felt it was a dedication to future generations.
"We have the resources to make a donation, and this was a good cause," Wilk said. "We've donated to other causes, but I think this was one of the best causes because of the young people. This fair is about the young people."
After remarks were made, all in attendance were invited to have a seat inside the grandstand, and drink a toast the new 2,500-seat facility, replacing the former wooden grandstand which was demolished in December, as well as take a walk inside the seating.
As Russ Loudon of Salem stood at the front row, he took a look from the seats and enjoyed the view.
"Of all of the ones in the area, I'd say this is the nicest," Loudon said. "I like the view across the track."
Kelly Cusick, who visited the press box with her husband Dale, also enjoyed the view and saw the new structure as fascinating.
"I really don't have the words to describe the awe of it," Kelly said. "The view is spectacular. There's no reason why you can't see things from anywhere here."
Matt Hughes, who has been a consultant on construction from the beginning, said although donations are still being accepted to pay off the grandstand in full, the fair is also looking into building brand new Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant restrooms possibly for next year.
"There is some interest in these ADA-compliant restrooms," Hughes said. "We have a few people that would like to contribute to that. That's probably the next most important feature."
Regardless, everyone on hand enjoyed the new grandstand, and the fair board hopes the community will enjoy it as well.
"This is Norman Rockwell stuff," Hughes said. "This is what rural America is all about."
The Columbiana County Fair kicks off 5 p.m. Monday.