Archived Story

Berrien County Fair Expo Arena gets financial boost

Published 6:32pm Monday, August 19, 2013

During the Berrien County Youth Fair Thursday, the Chemical Bank Foundation presented the fair board with a check for $50,000 for the $17 million Expo Arena project. As the fair’s Sponsor of the Day, Chemical Bank’s presentation was cheered by those attending the ceremony on the Fairgrounds Mall during another busy day during fair week in Berrien Springs.

The gift from Chemical Bank brings the Expo Arena at the Berrien County Youth Fair less than $800,000 away from their groundbreaking goal of $5 million.

“Chemical Bank is proud to continue our deep-rooted involvement and commitment within our local communities. The Expo Arena will promote economic development throughout the Berrien County area, which is one of the many goals that Chemical Bank strives to help make a reality in each of the communities we serve,” said Thomas S. Grant, community president for Chemical Bank.

When completed, the Expo Arena will offer a year-round, climate-controlled facility that will be a landmark showcase for energy conservation and sustainable design. The multi-function building will attract equestrian events, circuses, rodeos, farm shows, boat and auto shows, home and garden shows, conventions, concerts, wedding receptions, and proms.

“We are deeply appreciative of Chemical Bank’s support of the Expo Arena project, and it is particularly fitting that this check presentation is being made in tandem with Chemical Bank’s Sponsor of the Day support,” said Bruce Foster, chairman and president of the Berrien County Youth Fair Association Board. “Today is certainly Chemical Bank Day at the Fair.”

The proposed Expo Arena will cover 6.1 acres under one roof and will include a 500-stall stable and a unique indoor warm-up ring, a main arena that will seat 4,000 for show events and 7,000 seats for concert events, and a hospitality center that will feature a 14,000 square foot all-purpose exhibition hall with a full-service kitchen, offices, and access to the mezzanine level where the 18 classrooms will be located.

Jack Strayer, director of development and marketing for the Expo Arena at the Berrien County Youth Fair, has been raising funds for the project since the summer of 2009.

“With a goal of raising $5 million to begin the construction of the Expo Arena, Chemical Bank’s gift today brings our current total to over $4.25 million,” Strayer said. “The sluggish economy of the past few years has made it difficult to raise money, but the first three quarters of this year have really been spectacular thanks to the many generous contributions from businesses and individuals throughout all of Berrien County. These charitable donations are all testament to the support the county gives to our young people, because the Expo Arena is our gift to them.”

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