In Dec. 18 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Reporter
The century old grandstand at Veteran's Fairgrounds in Russell Springs is slowly being torn down due to the mostly wooden structure being deemed unsafe, according to Dale Mann who is overseeing the demolition.
Members of the Russell County Jaycees held a meeting with the county veterans who are stockholders in the fairgrounds over the weekend and approved the demolition, which began on Monday.
Larry Holt, a longtime member of the Jaycees, said once the wooden grandstand was removed, concrete would be poured into the structure's former location and the grounds' excess steel bleachers would be moved to that area.
He said that building another wooden grandstand was unlikely due to the extreme building costs, probably in the $200,000 range, it would take to erect a similar seating structure.
Dale Mann said he remembered as a child coming to the Russell County Fair and sitting the old grandstands and looking out from the top of the stands over the midway.
"Everybody in this whole area and in the surrounding counties would come here," Mann said of the 1940s and 50's. "It was all about the fair here."
On Tuesday, Mann and his son, Shannon, and Robert Brown were taking metal siding off the the aging structure.
Mann called the job a bittersweet one as many Russell Countians count the grandstand as a historical piece of Russell County.
He said the job, barring inclement weather, should take about three months so anyone wanting to get one last look at the seating structure should do so in the next 90 days or so.
"To me it is just an honor to be up here taking it down because I had a lot of memories here," he said. "I hate to see it go down but it's not safe, it is buckling out in the middle and wanting to come over (to the right)."
Holt said talks about removing the grandstand had been in progress for more than two years but that it was just now able to get done.
Mann said the structure is braced and has been prepared in so many places that it was not safe to be occupied any further.
"It is something that if you get a lot of people in there with a lot of weight and something bad could happen," he said.
Mark Rexroat who works with Holt at his thoroughbred racing stables at the fairgrounds said he, too, was sad to see the structure be taken down.
"I've had a lot of good times there," he said, looking out at the grandstand. "A lot of others have, too."