A land fund was created with donors giving $100 toward the purchase. There were 45 original land donors and later an additional 37 donated. Several donors contributed more than once. The land was bought at $600 per acre.
Dalenberg is impressed with the fair board’s vision in the 1950s. At the time, 12 acres would have been sufficient for a number of years, he said. But, he added, “When they acquired land, they had to be thinking about what it would be like in 20 to 30 years.”
In 1955, state funds allowed for $26,000 worth of building projects on the new fairgrounds to be erected, including the north home economics building, the beef barn and swine barn. The years from 1956 to 1972 were building years, as well, adding the south home economics building, the sheep and dairy barns, and new fence and more than 100 hand-dug and transplanted trees. The 1960s added the poultry building (now the Roy Ramert Ag-o-Rama building), the grandstand, the food building and extensions to the beef and sheep buildings.
The early 1970s brought the building phase to a halt for a few years. The food building was enclosed and the goat barn was completed.
In 2002, the board received a $100,000 Illinois FIRST grant for a banquet and conference center. Ground was broken in 2003 and the center dedicated in time for the 2006 fair. A large parking lot was added in 2011.
Dalenberg is pleased with the banquet center, as it’s used by many people. In fact, it’s rented for one-third of the weekends throughout the year for weddings. It’s a good place for receptions, he said.
The fairgrounds also is used by groups during the year; for example, the Danville Kennel Club holds a dog show there on Labor Day weekend. In June, there was a preview show for beef entries.