Baldwin County Fair may find a new home

By Guy Busby
Government Editor
guy@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 10/19/22

ROBERTSDALE — Officials with the Baldwin County Cattle and Fair Association are considering moving the Baldwin County Fair to a new location after the organization's lease on the fair site was …

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Baldwin County Fair may find a new home

Officials with the Baldwin County Cattle and Fair Association are considering moving the Baldwin County Fair to a new location after the organization's lease on the fair site was not renewed.
Officials with the Baldwin County Cattle and Fair Association are considering moving the Baldwin County Fair to a new location after the organization's lease on the fair site was not renewed.
PHOTO BY ALLISON MARLOW / GULF COAST MEDIA
Posted

ROBERTSDALE — Officials with the Baldwin County Cattle and Fair Association are considering moving the Baldwin County Fair to a new location after the organization's lease on the fair site was not renewed.

Alton "Sonny" Hankins, BCCFA director, said the city of Robertsdale notified them that the city would not renew the lease on the Baldwin County Coliseum. On Wednesday, Oct. 12, Hankins was packing items in his office at the coliseum where he has overseen operations of the association and facility for more than 10 years.

Following a decision by the city of Robertsdale to not renew the Baldwin County Cattle and Fair Association's lease on the Baldwin County Coliseum, Hankins said the association is considering what action to take, including whether to hold the fair at a new site.

"We've been holding the fair for 71 years and we're not going to stop," Hankins said. "Whether that's here or somewhere else, we'll have to see. It could be here. We could find somewhere off the Beach Express or somewhere else. That just depends, but we're going to have the Baldwin County Fair on the third week in September."

Hankins said the association owns property surrounding the coliseum and current fairgrounds site east of Robertsdale High School. He said the association will build a new office on that property and could hold the fair on that site.

Robertsdale Mayor Charles Murphy said the city is working to have the county fair at the site and he hopes to reach an agreement with the Cattle and Fair Association.

"That doesn't necessarily mean that the fair is going to leave Robertsdale because another group could put the fair on also," Murphy said. "Their situation, they don't have a complete lock on that. What I would say is they have conveyed to us that they've already bought some property that adjoins the site. So, I would think that with that purchase that they're in the mindset that they're going to relocate. But also, let me say this, that is their decision to do if they want to."

Hankins said the name "Baldwin County Fair," is owned by the association.

"They can have a county fair here, but it won't be the Baldwin County Fair," Hankins said.

Hankins said the property owned by the association has also been used for parking during previous fairs.

"They can have a fair, but where they're going to park those cars, I have no idea," Hankins said.

The coliseum opened in 2009. Most of the funding for the project came from a $7.5-million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to construct the facility that could be used as a hurricane shelter. Murphy said Hankins initiated the idea for the FEMA grant and oversaw construction on the property, which had been purchased by the association.

"It's truly amazing what he was able to accomplish," Murphy said. "And getting that stuff constructed. And I mean, he was the driving force."
Before the facility opened, the coliseum was transferred to Baldwin County and leased to the association, Murphy said.

In 2021, the county sold the coliseum to Robertsdale for $2.2 million. The association's lease on the site expired in September 2022 and the city did not renew the lease.

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