Archived Story

Hormel donates to grandstand cause

Published 10:15am Thursday, April 18, 2013

AUSTIN — The Mower County fair and county boards received grand news earlier this week.

The Hormel Foundation has agreed to give a $275,000 grant to partially fund the new grandstand at the Mower County Fairgrounds.

“We’re just really grateful that they chose to participate in this,” said county board Chairman Jerry Reinartz.

For the fair board, a grant is great news after a whirlwind year. The Austin Fire Department demolished the old grandstand in a controlled burn Feb. 2. A structural engineer had deemed it unsafe shortly before the 2012 after dry rot was discovered in the wood base. Temporary bleachers were used to keep the grandstand events going as planned last year.

Now, less than a year later, the fair board has its long-term solution.

“It’s a big relief for us,” said director Neal Anderson.

The Hormel Foundation grant is the last piece of the puzzle to fund the new 1,500-seat structure to replace the old grandstand.

The grandstand — which will be made of steel and aluminum — should be completed by Aug. 1, if not before, according to Anderson.

“It means that we’ll be able to get the structure that we need for the fair in place in time for the fair,” he said.

John Gray, assistant secretary-treasurer for the Hormel Foundation, said the Foundation board saw the project as a good investment for the community.

“The foundation board … really felt that this fit the need of the community and would help improve, generally speaking, the quality of life of its residents,” Gray said.

The foundation approved the funds with stipulations. It wants the county and fair boards to formulate a plan to increase the usage of the grandstands, especially outside fair week. The county and fair boards must also report back annually to the foundation over the next five years about the usage of the grandstand.