19, Mar
Muscatine County Fair receives $500,000 gift from Kent Corporation for new event center.

WEST LIBERTY, IA – The Muscatine County Fair Board hosted their annual “Weekend for the Fair” fundraiser on Saturday, February 24th. The board relies on the annual fundraiser to boost fair revenue, but they also use it to recognize donors and give updates on capital projects. This year they announced a major $500,000 from Kent Corporation for the new event center planned to open in 2025. The gift requires a $500,000 fundraising match which the fair board has already started to pursue. They kicked off a campaign last fall and are in the process of setting up donor meetings. Fundraising is off to a good start, but the gift from Kent Corporation makes this project a reality.

“We wanted to fundraise over half of the money,” said Meyers. “This gift from Kent Corporation means we can start construction this fall if we get a good bid from a qualified contractor. I cannot thank the Kent Foundation and the Kent family for this generous gift. The impact they have made on the Muscatine County Fair is immeasurable.”

In 2015, the Kent Corporation committed $410,000 for restoration of historic structures on the fairgrounds and expansion of the livestock campus. Mr. Gage Kent has supported many ag initiatives across Muscatine County and the state of Iowa, and many of those gifts have a direct impact on youth.

Meyers said fundraising for the project is to help limit debt so the event center can host FFA and 4H meetings free of charge.

“Our FFA and 4H enrollment is growing when it is shrinking in many other markets. These clubs and organizations are out of room and have a hard time finding spaces to meet and hold events. This facility will be a great option for the kids and will hopefully attract larger youth ag conferences,” said Meyers.

Project Details

The Buildings and Grounds committee has been working on plans for a new $2 million dollar event center for several years. After visiting several other facilities, they settled on a design last fall with the help of a local design firm. The building will be modern but complement the historic structures on the fairgrounds.

“We’ve said before, one of the features that sets our fair apart from other Iowa county fairs is our infrastructure,” said Kelsey Meyers, Fair Manager. “Our fairgrounds are listed as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places, which is managed by the National Park Service. The Federal Government has identified the significant history of these grounds and the unique architect styles and features. A new event center would enhance the grounds and better match with the historic style that we have worked hard to preserve.”

In addition to building a new facility that will enhance the historic site, this new event center will fill a major void for Muscatine County. Currently the County does not have a facility to host a head count of 500, and the closest facility that can is 40 miles away.

“We have done extensive market research on the need for this type of event center. Most counties in eastern Iowa have spaces that can accommodate large events. Weddings, business meetings, graduation parties, family events, and conferences are all growing,” said Meyers. “We are losing business to competing facilities because our space is too small and extremely outdated.”

Impact On Fair

At the Weekend of the Fair, Meyers highlighted how the fair has expanded in the past three years – attendance has grown from 10,000 to 30,000. A major driver of this growth is better entertainment. The new facility will provide a revenue stream throughout the year that can help fund bigger entertainment acts and other projects on the fairgrounds.

“Everyone knows the Jones County Fair,” said Meyers. “They have amazing facilities and entertainment, and they draw huge attendance. They are an example of how a county fair puts the county on the map. Everyone knows Jones County because of their fair. We can do the same thing here in Muscatine County.”

This year the Fair will host Stock Car Race, Donkey Races, Tractor Pull, a Tracy Lawrence & Drew Baldridge Concert, Demo Derby, and Trailer Races in the grandstands. The entertainment is set for the 2024 fair and the fair board is already looking at acts to expand the offering in 2025.


The Buildings and Grounds Committee will put the project out to bid later this spring. They hope to select a contractor by the 2024 Fair. If construction timelines run on schedule, the new facility could be ready by fall 2025. Meyers said she is building out the rental calendar and will start taking reservations once the facility is 70% complete.

Fundraising is in full swing. Anyone with questions or wanting to donate to the project can contact Kelsey Meyers and the Muscatine County Fair Office.


Kelsey Meyers (319) 627-2414
Muscatine County Fair Manager


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