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Stephens County Fairgrounds are hoping to expand

DUNCAN, Okla._Officials with the Stephens County Fair and Expo Center are in the final planning stages of expanding the fairgrounds in time for next fall.

Directors are eager to replace the open-air barn on the south side of the main arena with a permanent structure designed for more pens and storage space. They hope the completion of the 41,000 square foot expansion will help out much more than just guests of the fairgrounds.

They say the grounds just can't accommodate all the livestock and other animals that big name events are attracting to the area and it's becoming a serious problem. Director Mike Anderson says something like a lack of space can trickle down and have serious consequences on not only the event calendar, but even the economy as well. After months of work, the expansion of the Stephens County Fairgrounds is becoming more of a reality every single day.

"We are getting specs together on what it's going to cost, and all the small minute details," said Anderson.

Those little details are making up one big plan to take this pole barn down and build a permanent covered building designed to hold hundreds of bull pens and livestock cages. Anderson says it's been a long time coming.

"We ran out of stall space at our last roping event in November. I didn't feel comfortable with that," said Anderson.

And he says losing revenue isn't an option for Stephens County.

"The events we have now bring in around $6 million into Duncan every year. If they're successful, we're successful. And if we're successful, we're going to breed people coming in here and wanting to be a part of it," said Anderson.

He says a proposed price tag hasn't been solidified yet, but says that money will come from the .25 sales tax designed to fund the grounds' operations. In the meantime, he's confident the project will be money well spent.

"We have people come from Canada, from California, from Florida and they just love to come here. It's Duncan, America. If we don't grow with them, then we're going to be behind. I'm a competitor, and I think our commissioners are too," said Anderson.

County Commissioners will review all of those specifications and details on the project during next Monday's meeting. Once they give their official approval, plans will be handed over to the public and construction bids will be considered as they're received.

Directors hope to start construction in June, with a completion date sometime in August.

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