The Shell Prairie Agricultural Association and 4-H are partnering to make improvements at the county fairgrounds.

If all goes well, a new building to house 4-H poultry, rabbits, horses, general projects and open class entries will be built by 2023.

The Hubbard County Fair is organized by the Shell Prairie Agricultural Association, a nonprofit organization which owns the fairgrounds. Its board is made up of 16 members.

A new building will “improve multiple exhibitors’ experiences at the fair,” said board president Russell Smith.

Plans are still tentative, Smith said, and “pivots on a couple of lease deals that must be re-signed. If those go through, then that money will be automatically allocated toward building another building.”

Smith noted there are a couple of aging buildings on the fairgrounds. An old horse barn, which is no longer used, is in disrepair. The poultry barn needs work.

“Unfortunately, it costs way too much money to remodel these buildings. It’s cheaper to build new, even though we’d prefer to keep some of the older ones because there’s a lot of history in them,” he said. “We just can’t, financially, do that.”

The fair board is working on financing the new construction.

Meanwhile, Hubbard County 4-H has begun fundraising to acquire 40 new, galvanized steel horse stalls. At $1,500 each, the 10-foot-by-10-foot stalls are expected to cost $60,000.

The existing handmade horse stalls, using rough-cut lumber and customized hardware, reached the end of their usefulness, explained former 4-H Program Coordinator Mari Jo Lohmeier.

Utilized for somewhere between 30 to 40 years, Lohmeier said, “there’s got to be a point where we just say they’re not good any more, and so, this was the year.”

Lohmeier invited a University of Minnesota animal science specialist to inspect the old stalls, who agreed they should be replaced.

“Another issue was being in the bus garage,” Lohmeier said. “People don’t realize, when animals are hot, they are searching for minerals and lick the dirt. Well, that’s oil and stuff.”

For health and safety reasons, the specialist recommended placing rubber mats on the floor, if the horse stalls returned to the bus garage for the county fair.

Parts and pieces of the old stalls have been sold, “so there’s no going back,” Lohmeier said.

At the 2019 county fair, 4-H Riders did a “show and go.” No horses were housed on the fairgrounds, which drew comments from disappointed horse lovers, Lohmeier said.

The fair board and 4-H are collaborating on the new space, she said. “They’ll build the building, and we’ll supply the stalls. It’s exciting.”

The new building “will be very conducive to help the horses because it will be closer to the horse rings,” Lohmeier added.

Macy Miller, an architect major and 4-H intern, drafted a preliminary architectural drawing of the new horse stalls.

The new and improved horse stalls will be lighter, movable and collapsible, whereas the wooden stalls required forklifts to move, Lohmeier said.

All told, she said 4-H has roughly $28,000 in the bank, thus far. Hubbard County 4-H saved $15,000 for the project. The 4-H Riders Club raised another $3,000. Two large business donations, matching funds and endowments have supplied the rest.

“We’ve been doing a lot of grant writing,” she added, and local fundraising continues.

Donors who give $1,500 or more receive a permanent plaque on a stall. Those who wish to donate may do so online at z.umn.ed/4HHubbard.

Contributions for the new fair building may be made by contacting Smith at 218-252-0264.

“We have a fund that’s designated for improvements,” he said.