Economic Development, Nonprofits, and Travel & Tourism

Fair receives $2.5M grant for new fairgrounds

July 22, 2016
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Kent County Youth Fair crowd
The Kent County Youth Fair draws more than 40,000 people each year. Photo via

An annual fair in the area has received a $2.5-million grant from the state that will support its efforts to relocate.

The Kent County Youth Fair, a nonprofit run by the Kent County Agricultural Association, said it received the grant from the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development to support its long-term goal of creating new fairgrounds.

The fair is currently located in Lowell, at 225 S. Hudson.

The grant funding, secured with the assistance of state Senator Dave Hildenbrand and state Representative Lisa Posthumus Lyons, will allow the organization to build modern fairgrounds that accommodate the growing needs of exhibitors, patrons and vendors.

The funding will supply half of the initial cost to develop the new grounds, with the total project cost estimated at more than $5 million.

The organization plans to move ahead in three phases, as it secures the remaining donor funding, with initial plans calling for breaking ground in 2018.

Jon Bieneman, fair president, said the organization is “trying to finalize the land piece at this time.”

Bieneman said the fair will make every effort to stay within the Lowell zip code, noting the fair’s more than 80-year history in Lowell.

The fair has outgrown its current location, which is situated on a flood plain and offers no room for expansion.

“Our new grounds will enable us to provide more entertainment for West Michigan during the fair and the rest of the year, with adequate facilities and utilities providing an easily accessible venue,” Bieneman said.

He said the fair is planning to build all new barns and needed structures to operate “a great fair at a new location.”

The plans focus on continued growth in all areas of the fair, including amenities such as a campground with water and electricity available on each site, barn ventilation, maneuverable footpaths for wheelchairs and strollers and a bio-secure layout.

Bieneman said the current grounds were developed at a park that the City of Lowell owns, and the city will continue to operate the park and develop it after the fair relocates.

This year’s fair is being held Aug. 8-13. There are 819 registered exhibitors.

Bieneman said the fair attracts more than 40,000 visitors each year.

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