Meeting set on future of decaying fairground hall

Julie Lewis | The Daily Star The floral hall at the Otsego County Fairgrounds in Morris is shown Thursday.

After decades of displaying domestics, the Otsego County Fair floral hall is in disrepair.

A meeting is scheduled Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the fairgrounds office in Morris at 469 Mill Street to discuss options to repair or replace it, according to longtime fair participant Pat Patterson of New Lisbon.

The hall has displayed everything from fruits and vegetables to antiques and handicrafts at the annual August fair, and also includes a “country store” where visitors can purchase handmade items. Patterson said she believes the hall is one of the fair's first buildings.

The first Otsego County Fair exhibition was held Oct. 2-4, 1877, and several communities alternated as hosts until the fair found a permanent home in Morris in the 1930s. The county fair has an average annual attendance of over 30,000, according to its website.

The floral hall roof is leaking, and interior beams are deteriorating and in need of replacement, according to Patterson. The exterior boards are rotting. She said she has spent a lot of time in the building since 2012, when she began organizing the “collections” category displayed in the hall.

“I personally want to see it fixed,” Patterson said. “That's a historic building and I think the community should get together behind this thing and push for it to be done.”

A less expensive option would be to tear down the hall and construct a pole barn, but Patterson argues that the same type of exhibits couldn't be hosted.

“They want to get the public involved in order to get ideas and support,” Patterson said.

Requests for comment and additional information made to several fair board members were not returned by Sunday evening.

Erin Jerome, staff writer, may be reached at (607) 441-7221, or at ejerome@thedailystar.com. Follow her on Twitter at @DS_ErinJ .

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