The improvements getting underway now at the county-owned park were approved under a 2012 master plan by both the Cobb Board of Commissioners and the North Georgia Fair Association, which operates the park each September during the fair.
Over the next month, the fair association will break ground on a $750,000 new multipurpose building replacing the 50-year-old barn that once stood on the site at the south end of the fairgrounds, said Tod Miller, who has managed fair activities since he took over the event from his late father and fair namesake Jim R. Miller in 1990.
The barn was dated, Miller said, and should have been torn down 20 or 30 years ago. A more modern open-air barn will replace its predecessor.
“Before it was a county park, the barn was there and people could board their horses there,” Miller said. “They stored equipment there throughout the year.”
Expected to be completed by Aug. 1, the building will be given to the county at no cost and will be available for the public to rent year round. It will also bring more restrooms to the south end of the fair grounds.
“It’s going to be a huge benefit to the citizens that they’ll have a facility they can use,” said Eddie Canon, director of Cobb parks and recreation.
Miller estimated 90 percent of the 275,000 visitors to the fair last year walked through the barn. It’s the most popular section of the fair, Miller said, particularly since the addition of the Wildcat Rollercoaster in 2011 and the 2,000-foot chair lift last year.
“That end of the fairgrounds has really taken off in the last couple of years,” Miller said.
Though the new barn won’t cost Cobb a dime and is entirely funded through the fair association, $6.2 million in 2011 special purpose local option sales tax has been set aside for projects at the 110-acre park.
Under the 2011 SPLOST, underground utilities and piping will be replaced to support future construction. A nearby dam will also be improved. Leftover cash will be spent building new restrooms and a new entrance ticket booth.