There’s a lot of activity at the Western N.C. Agricultural Center in Fletcher, what with the staff getting ready for the 2009 N.C. Mountain State Fair (opening Sept. 11) and construction crews finishing work on two new buildings on the property.
The Mountain Heritage Center is a 12,000 square-foot log building that will house artists and craftspeople during the fair. The rest of the year, it will be available for rental for shows and events.
The building’s log construction and exposed beams pay homage to the craftsmanship that’s a huge part of North Carolina’s mountain heritage. A kitchen and restrooms make the building suitable for use for wedding receptions, family reunions and other events.
The Ag Center also will have a new Expo Building. At 30,000 square feet, this enclosed metal structure will provide plenty of room for exhibits during the fair, and can be used for livestock shows and other events throughout the year. For those of you familiar with the ag center’s layout, the Expo Building is located down the hill from the livestock barns.
The best thing about the two buildings, for those who will be working in them or visiting during the fair, is they have heating and air conditioning.
The two buildings are the first to be built at the WNC Ag Center in more than a decade, says Kent Yelverton, director of property and construction for the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Total cost for the two buildings is about $5 million, which the General Assembly appropriated during the 2007 legislative session.
The WNC Ag Center is a self-supporting operation, meaning it generates its operating money by renting its facilities year-round and operating the annual Mountain State Fair. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler says the center lost out on millions of dollars in potential revenue over the years because its buildings lacked the flexibility to accommodate a variety of events, didn’t have heat and air conditioning or were too big for smaller groups. “The new buildings will help address those needs while maintaining the ag center’s core use as an excellent venue for livestock shows,” he says.
You can check out these new buildings — and enjoy some great Western N.C. hospitality — by heading to Fletcher for the Mountain State Fair, running Sept. 11-20.