Local insurance agent Tony Staggs looked at the Adams County Fairgrounds and thought, “What can I do?”
Staggs saw the fairgrounds as something that needed sprucing up, redone in certain places, and above all else – action.
“I go to the fair every year and one thing that I have a passion about it when I was growing up as a kid my grandparents used to take me to the fair and the minute you’d walk into the fairgrounds you’d see the center ring, you’d see the grandstands, you’d see the Ferris wheel and the merry-go-round,” Staggs said. “And that was my passion to get the fair back to where it used to be.”
Staggs was presented by the Adams County Fair Board as the Outstanding Fair Supporter for 2014 after taking action himself to help improve the fairgrounds in any way he could.
“You always hear a lot of people complain, gripe and moan so one day I was asking the board what their intention was for the grandstands and supposedly they didn’t have any long term plans or anything like that,” Staggs said. “So for me to get my vision of having a nice center ring, grandstands, Ferris wheel and merry-go-round I decided that instead of griping about it I was going to do something about it.”
Staggs started a fundraising campaign and eventually raised over $20,000 to help create his vision for the fairgrounds.
“It’s just that instead of griping about something I would rather do something,” Staggs said. “And the community was real receptive to it. So we’ve been working quite a bit to make some improvements and show the community and public what we’re doing.”
Staggs said much of the lumber that is replacing the nearly 80 year old wood in some areas of the grandstand was donated by McCoy Lumber in Peebles.
“Jack McCoy of McCoy Lumber and his family have donated the lumber to put the new bleachers and everything in,” Staggs said. “He has been a godsend for the project.”
Staggs hopes the renovation of the main grandstand will get the ball rolling on other projects to improve the fairgrounds.
“I said that before we can have another project we got to show them we’re doing something,” Staggs said. “So these last couple months we’ve been working pretty hard on the grandstands so we have at least a portion of it ready to go for the fair.”
Staggs said the main motivation he had for spearheading the renovation was how embarrassed he felt sitting in the deteriorating grandstands in years previously.
“It was embarrassing to sit in the grandstands,” Staggs said. “To have entertainment come in or expect people from other counties or villages to come in and go to the fair and sit there, it was embarrassing to me. And I said, ‘There’s no reason it should be like this.’”
While the framed certificate recognizing Staggs sits in his office, he says it’s not about the award or recognition.
“I was humbled by [the award],” Staggs said. “I didn’t expect anything. I didn’t want anything. I just want to be able to show improvement, be involved and go and get it done.”
Improvements in other areas of the fairgrounds have taken place, but Staggs believes it’s going to take effort from everyone pitching in to make his vision a reality.
“The 4H programs are magnificent,” Staggs said. “They’ve done a lot and they’re doing a lot now as far as helping. And just one little thing spurs into something else. People can see that we’re doing something with the grandstands. The horse people have put a new front of the horse barn and we’re getting other buildings painted. That’s all it’s going to take is a little bit of everybody coming together and we’re going to make a big difference.”