Commercial Building renovated for 2022 parish fair

Published 10:35 am Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

In February of this year, newly sworn-in Building and Grounds Chairman Jason Creel met with a group of representatives from a variety of fair committees. The purpose was primarily to identify and create a comprehensive plan for major capital expenditures necessary to maintain or develop the physical assets of the fair grounds. The reasons for such a plan include maintaining the current level of service and pride in the Washington Parish Fair Ground while complying with mandated standards, improving the safety of citizens and visitors, replacing and/or renovating existing obsolete and deteriorating facilities, and ultimately contributing to the development of the future of the fair. One of the first and most pressing projects was to complete the repairs on the Sylvest and Magee cabins in the Mile Branch Settlement after damage sustained in a tornado in 2020. Also high on the list of priorities was improvements to one of the fair’s largest structures, the Commercial Building.

Located northwest of the main bridge, the commercial building is a usual hub of activity featuring businesses from around the area. It is where one can go for anything from a free drink of cold water to purchasing items ranging from jewelry and jellies to ATVs and gun safes. In recent years, the area surrounding the building has become home to crafters and other small businesses, which have set up tents to show off their wares. There was a great need to replace all the electrical wiring in and around the building, as well as replace antiquated fluorescent lights with LED lights. Returning vendors have added shelving and counter space to fit their specific needs over the years, and this has led to no specific uniformity to the rented spaces. The proposed renovation called for replacing the booths with a more modular design.

Work began in May with tearing out all existing structures and a hodge-podge of flooring and pouring a new concrete floor in the entire building. This October, there will be 56 spaces in the Commercial Building, with new specific guidelines for booth set-ups that make the area more consistent and modern. Additionally, there will now be over 7,000 square feet of additional vendor space outside. Improved drainage, concrete walkways and new electrical hookups will allow for more booths while also tying together the Commercial Building to a new asphalt road connecting the gate on the north end of the fairgrounds to the livestock barn. This will make moving about the area less dusty or less muddy while also becoming more handicapped accessible.

Creel is pleased with how these improvements and upgrades have taken shape inside and around the Commercial Building. Chairman of the Commercial Building Randy Strickland is also excited about the new opportunities for businesses to show off their products to the thousands of visitors who come through the building during the fair. Strickland says that there are spaces available for anyone selling items that do not directly conflict with those already sold by vendors at the fair, such as hamburgers, hot dogs, snowballs, and soft drinks, to name a few. Anyone who may want to rent a space in the newly improved Commercial Building or set up a booth outside the building can contact Strickland at 985-839-7850 for pricing and availability.

Creel and Strickland, along with Fair President James Magruder, urge locals and visitors to check out the Commercial Building and see what area businesses have to offer.

This article was written by Toni Tageant, who is a member of the Washington Parish Free Fair Association.