The Washington State Fair’s many barns and arenas reflect the importance of agriculture and farm life.
Now, with the completion of the AgriPlex, the Fair’s newest facility, learning about livestock will be easier than ever — especially when it comes to dairy-producing livestock.
“It’s really important to us to keep agriculture alive,” said Stacey Howard, public relations manager for the Fair. “It’s one of our top priorities to educate our guests on agriculture.”
The 22,000-square-foot AgriPlex was originally built to replace Evergreen Hall, which burned down at the end of the spring Fair season in April 2014. The $7.4 million project was built on a 1-acre piece of land off of 5th Street SW, south of where Evergreen Hall used to stand.
Construction began in November 2015 and ended with a grand opening on Aug. 24. Around 100 people worked on the building to get it ready in time for the Fair.
“Everyone from engineers to tilers to window glaziers (worked on the project),” said chief operating officer Adam Heffron. “I like the wood and the concrete. Just architecturally, there are some nice touches.”
Evergreen Hall was one of the oldest buildings at the fair, and the AgriPlex was built after many building codes changed.
On the outside, wood panels line the sides of the complex. All of the names of Washington’s counties are engraved into the wood as a part of the Fair’s theme.
On the inside, the new AgriPlex has air-handling systems and climate control, with large fans across the ceiling. Even the bathrooms kept with the barn theme and have cowboy boots painted on the doors.
It’s really important to us to keep agriculture alive. It’s one of our top priorities to educate our guests on agriculture.
Stacey Howard, public relations manager for the Washington State Fair
The facility was built to hold 200 animals and includes a new eight-animal milking parlor. As Fair visitors walk through the AgriPlex, they can observe cows and sheep and watch them be milked. The dairy animals have to be milked every day.
Darigold, a local agriculture company partnered with the Fair, will use the milk collected from the parlor to use for its products, said Heffron.
When the traditional livestock aren’t hanging out in the AgriPlex being fitted or washed, they’ll be in the new 12,000 square foot arena next door. Here, audiences can watch from bleachers while the dairy animals are judged and awarded.
The AgriPlex also includes a 185 by 60 foot plaza, where the Fair plans to set up booths and public seating.
Outside of the Fair season, the AgriPlex will play host to a variety of events, from conventions, conferences and banquets.
If renters are worried about sharing the same space as the livestock, they shouldn’t be, Heffron assures. The floor is specially treated with sealant that protects it for other event uses.
“It’s that sweet spot and the right size,” Heffron said about the complex. “It has all the elements people need. We’re not really limited.”
Events scheduled at the AgriPlex during the Fair include the Dairy Cattle Show and the Fleece Show. For the full list, visit thefair.com/locations/details/agriplex.