Charles Co. fair visitors get look at new complex

Managing Editor

LaPLATA, Md. (Sept. 23, 2014) — Even with some rainy weather during the Charles County Fair, spirits were high as livestock exhibitors and fairgoers opened a new livestock and show complex after fire had destroyed the previous barns on the fairgrounds last year.
In April 2013, fire destroyed about 18,000 square feet of buildings including the fair’s livestock barns and show rings.
With some of the finishing touches coming the day the fair opened, fair officials and county 4-Hers paused to hold a blessing of the new complex.
Rev. Bruce Jones, pastor of the LaPlata United Methodist Church gave the blessing which was also sent over to the fairground’s loudspeaker.
“The board really felt the good Lord had blessed us in many ways and felt we needed to acknowledge that,” said Charles Gardiner, Charles County Fair Board president, recalling a rush of pride, excitement and satisfaction for the project’s completion while Jones gave the blessing. Gardiner said plans for an official ribbon cutting on the new buildings are in the works, as well.
After the fire, the fair board decided to rebuild the livestock barns, but “come back bigger, better, stronger,” Gardiner said.
With input from the community and stakeholder groups, the board decided on a plant to build a large main building with a show ring and stalls for livestock as well as separate buildings for other livestock species connected with a covered walkway. The old livestock barns connected to the show ring like spokes on a wheel which made the space between the buildings difficult to use.
“The theory was that once you got into the complex you didn’t have to go back outside to see other animals but you didn’t have to go through other barns to get to the animals you wanted to see,” Gardiner said.
The new design also facilitates more use for other events throughout the year, he added.
The new buildings add about 8,000 square foot more covered space with many new amenities including heating and air conditioning, ceiling fans, more access to electricity and access to the bathrooms from both inside and outside the buildings.
“It’s a big steel building but we didn’t want it to look like a big steel building,” Gardiner said. “I think there was quite a bit of wow factor.”
The the new complex larger than the old, the fair board has been raising money to meet what the insurance on the old buildings did not cover.
The board’s dedication brick campaign to repave the floor of the Old McDonald Barn, continues, Gardiner said.
For $100 each, bricks will be inscribed with a name or message and become part of the fair.
The Old McDonald Barn, which had recently been used for a variety of purposes and suffered some minor damage in the fire, is set to be remodeled into a fair museum focused largely on the 4-H and livestock events, Gardiner said.
More information on purchasing bricks is available at the fair’s website,, or by phoning the fair office at 301-932-1234.