Blank Canvas

The Allen County Fairgrounds offers flexible event space to the community year round.
Jan 7, 2020
Tammy Davis
Jeffrey Crane & provided

Each year in July, the Allen County Fairgrounds comes alive with activity. The Allen County Fair fills its buildings, barns and open spaces with people and festivities; there’s something for everyone during this magical week.

That leaves 51 other weeks to find something to fill the fairgrounds

According to Michelle Love, who serves on the executive board of the Allen County Fairgrounds, the property has just as much to offer in the remainder of the year. The fairgrounds, says Love, exist for more than just the fair.

“The Allen County Fair is a big reason why we exist, but it is not the only reason,” says Love. “We strive to be a resource for the community to provide space not only for agricultural educational opportunities, but also for special events such as weddings, birthday celebrations and business meetings. We hope more families and businesses will utilize the fairgrounds.”

Facility rentals make up an important part of the Allen County Fairgrounds’ budget, allowing the organization to invest in repairs, upgrades and maintenance of the property. Unlike its counterparts in other counties, the Allen County Fairgrounds is a self-supporting, nonprofit organization and receives no tax dollars for its operation. In addition, the organization is run by a twenty-member, volunteer board and employs only three paid staff members.

“It is a common misconception that the Allen County Fairgrounds receives county funding as some of our neighboring fairgrounds do,” says Love. “We are a 501(c)3 and rely on donations, memberships, rentals and revenue from the Allen County Fair to operate.”

Weddings and special events fill most weekends at the fairgrounds, but during the week, the facilities often remain unused. That’s a shame, according to Love, who hopes to build awareness of the Allen County Fairgrounds among more professional organizations. From business meetings to corporate trainings to company picnics, the fairgrounds has buildings that can accommodate as many as 400 people, as well as outdoor pavilions that provide space for even more. Most indoor rental contracts include tables and chairs, plus sound equipment for overhead audio. The board places significant focus on ensuring the facilities remain up-to-date.

“Our all-volunteer board is passionate about the organization and spends countless hours making sure the fairgrounds is maintained and ready for the community,” says Love. “In the last three years, we have renovated the Home and Family Arts Building, as well as the Exhibit Building. Our four indoor buildings offer both heat and central air along with food staging areas, tables, chairs and various amenities to accommodate special events.” 

Patrons will also find ample parking at the fairgrounds, with free parking lots available next to all special event buildings. For events that use the entire property, a parking lot in front offers additional parking spaces. 

Because of its nonprofit status, Love describes the Allen County Fairgrounds as a community resource rather than simply an event venue. Its mission statement specifically calls for it “to always be a people place dedicated to youth, family, and community for educational and recreational purposes.” That objective, says Love, sets the Allen County Fairgrounds apart from other rental facilities.

“We want to make sure we fulfill our mission of being a resource to the community and therefore go above and beyond to accommodate events,” says Love. “We make sure we do not have restrictions that preclude other organizations from being able to utilize our facilities.”

That means allowing people to bring in their vendors of choice to handle catering, decorations, entertainment, and other aspects of their event. This kind of flexibility offers rental customers maximum flexibility to accommodate all types of budgets. Of course, fairgrounds personnel are also available to provide guidance and recommendations when desired.

With so many options, the Allen County Fairgrounds can be aptly viewed as a blank canvas. Its versatile spaces, open vendor policy, and accommodating team allow personal and professional rental customers to turn any event vision into reality. To date, the fairgrounds has hosted meetings, car shows, company picnics, fundraising walks, craft bazaars, corporate training events, animal shows, weddings, birthday celebrations, anniversary parties, and much more. The possibilities are limited only by imagination.

“If you can dream it up,” says Love, “it is possible at the Allen County Fairgrounds.” 

Allen County Fairgrounds

Address: 2726 Carroll Road Fort Wayne, Indiana 46818

Phone: (260) 449-4444

Website: allencountyfairgroundsin.com

Email: allencountyfairgroundsin@comcast.net

Years in Business: 30

Products & Services: The mission of the Allen County Fairgrounds, Inc. is to always be a people place dedicated to youth, family, and community for educational and recreational purposes.

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