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Groundbreaking for new Mower County grandstand set for Tuesday

AUSTIN — A ceremonial groundbreaking for the new grandstand at the Mower County Fairgrounds has been tentatively set for Tuesday morning.

The Mower County Board adopted that timeframe during a meeting earlier this week. The official action is scheduled for 9:30 a.m., pending the availability of the Mower County Fair Board and the Hormel Foundation.

The old grandstand was condemned after the 2012 county fair and destroyed in February by fire in a training exercise for local fire departments. The new grandstand is expected to be fully constructed "by the time you buy a ticket" for the fair, according to Mower County Public Works Director Mike Hansen.

The Mower County Fair is scheduled for Aug. 6-11 this year. Officials hope to wrap up the construction process by the end of July.

The new, 1,500-seat grandstand is expected to cost more than $775,000. In December, the board assigned $500,000 of its 2013 budget to grandstand construction, while also pursuing a grant from the Hormel Foundation. A grant worth $275,000 was approved by the Hormel Foundation board of directors in April, with conditions that the new facility be used for other activities to further enhance the community, such as public concerts.


That funding has allowed the board to pursue some higher-end options for the new facility, including steel-and-aluminum seating with continuous seatbacks, a roof and an enclosed press box that measures approximately 40 feet by 9 feet, according to Hansen.

While the groundbreaking is about a week away, work might already be well under way. Craig Oscarson, the Mower County coordinator, says the contractor has begun to "fabricate" some of the metal pieces, which will later be transported to Austin. Hansen also says the footings of the new grandstand are likely to be installed this week.

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