New fairgrounds building made of N.C. native wood now bears name of ‘Renaissance man’ who managed construction

by | Nov 4, 2021

The newest building at the N.C. State Fair now has its official name. During the 2021 fair, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler announced the name at a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and with that announcement he surprised the man who supervised the building’s construction.

Stanfield and his wife Dee (seated) with Sharon Troxler before Commissioner Troxler’s surprise announcement

The building was completed just before the 2021 fair, and Troxler revealed the name as the James Robert “Bob” Stanfield Natural Resources Center.

“I kept looking to see if his fingers were crossed,” Bob Stanfield said shortly after the ribbon cutting. “I’m more flabbergasted than any kid over in that fair [midway].”

Prior to managing the construction of the Stanfield Center, Stanfield oversaw the construction, reconstruction and/or renovation of seven buildings in Heritage Circle. That included moving and rebuilding some of the log buildings in the circle. The new Stanfield Center sits up the hill from Heritage Circle in the N.C. State Fair Conservation forest near Gate 6.

“I consider Bob a friend, but I have plenty of friends I wouldn’t ask to build cabins and buildings from reclaimed logs. He’s an expert in historic log cabin construction, and his work speaks for itself,” Troxler said. “Today I couldn’t be prouder to name this building for a man who has played a major role in the vision to expand Heritage Circle and create a connection with our conservation forest.”

With help from Stanfield’s wife of 55 years Dee Ann Stanfield, Troxler also shared some background about Bob Stanfield. That background includes his previous work as a Bell South engineer and executive and a log cabin construction instructor at Rockingham Community College. Troxler agreed with Mrs. Stanfield’s characterization of Bob Stanfield as a Renaissance man and “Energizer Bunny.”

“I’d say she has him pegged pretty well,” Troxler said.

Stanfield previously described some of the construction vision and process in a post on the N.C. State Fair’s Deep Fried blog. He had no idea the building would eventually bear his name.

“I think the surprise of it all is what’s grabbing me right now,” Stanfield said. “The reality of it will probably get me in a day or two when I realize what’s really happened.”

Troxler said the honor was well deserved since Stanfield not only oversaw construction of several buildings, but because of his previous service as a soil and water conservation district supervisor in Rockingham County and on the state’s Soil and Water Conservation Commission. Stanfield also has a connection to and appreciation of the state’s forest resources.

“It’s so deserved, not only for what he’s done here but the public service with soil and water, and he’s actually got a saw mill himself. So he’s a woodworker. He’s a forestry man. He’s a soil and water man, and he’s the craftsman who’s done all these buildings, so it’s well deserved,” Troxler said.

As described in the Deep Fried blog post, the lumber used for the building came from North Carolina suppliers. The N.C. Forest Service has a webpage for the Stanfield Center, which lists the donors.

“The outside of the building is made of North Carolina yellow popular that will age to a beautiful grey,” Troxler said during the ribbon cutting. “But the inside is also a showcase of timber resources. The interior walls are made of 29 different types of wood from native North Carolina trees. Wood from Eastern Carolina trees line the east wall, while Western Carolina trees are on the west wall, and Piedmont trees line the north and south ends in between.”

The Stanfield Center is now a more permanent home for annual fair exhibits for the N.C. Forest Service and the N.C. Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, which donated $70,000 to the building’s construction. Employees from the NCDA&CS Soil and Water Conservation division help the association with the exhibits.

“Having forestry and soil and water in the same building is a perfect fit,” Troxler said. “Using all North Carolina lumber products, I hope the public when they go to make decisions on what kind of products to build a building with, a business with, a home with, that they remember these products that we have right here in North Carolina.”