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$22 million upgrade proposed for Clay County Fairgrounds

Study urges expanding upon 'small town, country feeling' of annual fair

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Major renovations, along with a new banquet hall and open-air auditorium, could be coming at the Clay County Fairgrounds.

A $22 million master plan for the Raul E. Reinhold Agricultural Fairgrounds was prepared by the College of Design, Construction and Planning of the University of Florida and presented to the Clay County Commission.

The report's objectives were to create a place that families and children can use year-round, promote innovation, facilitate access and increase profitability.

The study found the 129 acres of land and current buildings are valued at over $5.1 million and the county's return on investment last year was 1.5 percent.

"The fairground is the most well-positioned regional venue, outside of Jacksonville, to accommodate large events, but the facility lacks a common, recognizable identity that could be used to market the venue to new audiences," the report found. "A common emergent theme from these groups is that the country/rural identity of the fairgrounds should be preserved for future generations. By attending the 2018 fair, the research team found that the vast majority of out-of-county visitors attended because of the safe, small town, country feeling of the event."

Nearly 51 percent of the people who attend large events at the fairgrounds every year are visitors from surrounding areas.

Renderings produced for the report picture a new south entrance to the fairgrounds, the new banquet hall where people could hold events, including weddings, an open auditorium where concerts could be held, and the exhibition hall.

The report does not give a timetable for when the project could begin. It would be up to the county to approve funding and select contractors.

145-PAGE REPORT: Clay County Fairground Master Plan 

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