Construction continues on the new Rabbit Barn at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds Tuesday. The new Rabbit Barn is projected to be finished in time for this year’s fair. (DHI Media/Ed Gebert)
Construction continues on the new Rabbit Barn at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds Tuesday. The new Rabbit Barn is projected to be finished in time for this year’s fair. (DHI Media/Ed Gebert)

VAN WERT — In just over one month, the Van Wert County Fair will be in full swing. At that time, housing for some of the animal projects will be in different quarters than in years gone by. The obvious headliner is the new Rabbit Barn, which is currently under construction near the location of the old Rabbit Barn.

“It’ll be done in time for the fair,” assured Fair Manager Troy Oechsle. The old facility, which Oechsle stated is the oldest animal building on the grounds, will soon be taken down; a victim of the elements and time. The 600 old cages have been moved out of the old building and will be used again in the new barn.

The $80,000 barn’s construction has been made possible by the Van Wert youth and adult rabbit clubs, The Bunny Hoppers 4-H club, and rabbit exhibitors from all clubs. They have had plenty of help. In 2012,Leslie Marbaugh donated her grand champion winnings to the project, which was slowing gaining steam. Organizations like the Van Wert County Foundation and the Van Wert Rotary Club made large contributions to the effort. The Rotarians donated nearly $8,400 toward the building of a new barn. Businesses like Iberdrola Renewables and many private donors gave money. Bake sales were held, organized by Fair Board Director Ann Marshall. Townships hauled stone to the new site. And many people have donated time and energy to provide a newer, cleaner Rabbit Barn.



The new building will be able to house even more rabbits, once additional cages are readied. The open rabbit show this year will be held on Saturday of Fair Week. It is sanctioned by the American Rabbit Breeders Association, which will bring in senior exhibitors from five states.

Demolishing the old barn was the decision made since the condition of the building was not conducive for saving it. Anyone interested in donating to help with construction of the Rabbit Barn or with replacing some of the old cages, should contact the Van Wert County Foundation.

What else is new? With the Rabbit Barn covering ground where the poultry entries were formerly kept during the fair, other arrangements had to be made for those animals. Although not yet completed, the old barn currently marked for junior and senior fair goats is being converted to house poultry like ducks and geese in pens and installing cages for chickens. Work on that barn is continuing until the beginning of the fair itself.

One other building project, new to the fair is at the Grandstand area. A handicap ramp has been installed to make the grandstands themselves wheelchair-accessible. The ramp was once used at Crestview School to provide access to temporary classrooms during that school’s renovation project a few years ago. Oeschsle noted that an area at the west end of the grandstands is being set apart for handicapped seating.

“It should give them a great view of the events on the track,” Oechsle said.

The 158th annual edition of the Van Wert County Fair will be held Aug. 27 - Sept. 1.