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Old buildings at fairgrounds are being put to pasture

Submitted art This sketch, taken from, shows what the proposed new barn might look like once complete.

The big brick 'wall' that runs along Highway 78 in Perham will be gone by next summer.

That 'wall' is actually a lean-to used for beef and dairy animals during the East Otter Tail County Fair, and it's one of three structures scheduled to be torn down and replaced.

According to information from the East Otter Tail Agricultural Society, a new cattle facility is to be built and put in a different location on the fairgrounds. The city of Perham is tentatively planning to sell that land along Highway 78 to a developer.

Due to the city's plans, along with the cost of repairing the existing buildings and concerns over the aging buildings' safety, the agricultural society is moving forward with construction of a new beef and dairy barn.

Karen Gorentz, one of the agricultural society's building committee members, said work on the new barn should start around April, and the structure should be up and usable in time for this summer's fair.

She said the new barn will replace the brick lean-to, as well as a shorter learn-to nearby and an area barn-type structure that shelters the milk house.

The proposed barn is 60 feet by 120 feet and is estimated to hold more than 150 head of cattle. It will be located next to the 4-H exhibit building, right in front of the children's barn, and it will have an educational focus.

The new location of the barn, "should provide a better people flow, with people going from building to building to see the animals," said Gorentz. "The old buildings were not centrally located; this one will be."

The new barn will contain amenities such as a milk house, parlor, changing and nursing rooms, various ventilation features, and removable tie rails. The building will also feature updated power, with outlets easily accessible on both the sidewalls and down the middle of the building.

The new building will be focused on educating consumers about the agricultural industry, as the vast majority of consumers are more than three generations removed from the farm.

In a press release, the agricultural society stated that it, "firmly believes that educating consumers and investing in the youth of 4-H and FFA is vital to the success of the agricultural industry and the fair."

With updated milking facilities, the new building will also foster interaction between livestock exhibitors and consumers.

The primary use for the building will be to house beef and dairy cattle during the fair, however the project will be versatile to many different species and appeal to organizations throughout the county, with different activities such as auctions, sales, shows and dances.

Total project costs are estimated at $100,000.

During the 2012 fair, the existing buildings held a total of 160 head of dairy and beef animals. In addition, beef and dairy open shows were held, which brought in an additional 120 head of cattle.

To get involved with the project, or with the agricultural society, visit or contact one of the building committee members: Ed Keil, at 218-640-1806; Pete Zavadil, at 346-2521; or Karen Gorentz, at 218-234-3716.

Contributions to the project are being accepted, and are tax deductible.