“People embrace county fairs as an opportunity to set the rest of life aside and delve into the sights, sounds and feelings that combine to create an experience that is unquestionably unique, while at the same time, timeless and familiar, no matter where you are.”
– Samantha Johnson
It’s summertime, and for many of us, that means a trip to our county or state fair. The sights, sounds and smells are synonymous with summer. Whether it’s corn dogs, funnel cakes, lemonade shakeups or anything fried on a stick, fairs represent the best of summer.
From the main gate to the grandstand and all the buildings, barns and areas in between, engineers help plan and design fairgrounds for fairs and other special events, including festivals, concerts and community activities.
Hanson’s engineers have designed numerous buildings at fairgrounds as well as provided plans and designs for the entire complex, including roads, tunnels, buildings and parking lots.
Designing fairgrounds deep in the heart of Texas
In Texas, Hanson has provided planning and design services for two fairgrounds: the San Patricio County Fairgrounds and Event Center in Sinton, Texas, and the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds in Robstown, Texas.
As part of the San Patricio County Fairgrounds project, Hanson designed a new 35-acre, five-building fairgrounds complex, totaling 245,000 gross square feet. The complex includes a civic center, an exhibit hall, an event center, an arena, a 200-stall horse barn, a covered outdoor BBQ pavilion, a large open green space and parking areas. This area accommodates a variety of outdoor events, such as carnivals, fairs, festivals and cook-offs.
At the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds, Hanson worked closely with Nueces County, Texas, to develop a master plan that led to the phased development of a new regional fairgrounds. This complex consists of:
- A 4,200-seat baseball field,
- A 28,000-square-foot conference center and ballroom,
- A 53,000-square-foot central pavilion,
- Two 50,000-square-foot exhibit halls,
- A 62,000-square-foot equestrian center with 150-foot by 300-foot covered area, 1,000 bleacher seats, 100-stable horse barn and two warm-up rings,
- Water features (a bird watching sanctuary and walking trails),
- An RV park,
- Utility infrastructure, roadways and parking facilities,
- A variety of covered walkways, feature towers and entry structure and
- Open green fields for carnivals and festivals.
This facility is used for area-wide events, minor league baseball games, county fairs and expositions, tradeshows, banquets, concerts and conferences.
Florida and Illinois fairgrounds make project list
Our work at fairgrounds extends beyond Texas to other states, including Florida and Illinois. Nearly all 50 states have state fairs or similar events.
For more than 100 years, the Florida State Fair has welcomed Florida residents and visitors to experience a variety of entertainment, agricultural and educational options as well as a little friendly competition and good, old-fashioned fair food. The 330-acre Florida State Fairgrounds is located adjacent to Interstate 4 and I-75 in Tampa, Florida, and is home to the state fair, which runs every year for 12 days in February. The fairgrounds also accommodates conventions, educational tours and concerts throughout the year.
Our team worked with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to help the department assess replacing the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems at the Florida State Fairgrounds’ special events center. The center is used for trade shows and exhibitions. Hanson also served as the owner’s representative during a chilled water piping project under construction in the fairgrounds’ exposition hall.
With its headquarters in Springfield, Illinois, Hanson has been involved in numerous projects at the historic Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, including restoration of the fairgrounds’ cattle barns, coliseum and exposition building, planning for the rodeo arena and design of the fair’s gates. The Illinois State Fair dates back to 1853 and runs for 11 days in August.
Writer Samantha Johnson says, “People embrace county fairs as an opportunity to set the rest of life aside and delve into the sights, sounds and feelings that combine to create an experience that is unquestionably unique, while at the same time, timeless and familiar, no matter where you are.”
So, whether or not you visit a fair this year, we hope you’ll enjoy your summer! And no matter the season, we’ll continue to design places that meet our clients’ needs and are important to the people and communities that use them.