Kent News

Kent Corporation’s Donation at Work

Kent Corporation has donated $360,000 in matching funds to fix and restore structures at the Muscatine County Fairgrounds including the Swine Pavilion.  An official groundbreaking ceremony for the Swine Pavilion project was held back in March.   John Thorpe, President of Kent Nutrition Group/ GPC, addressed the Muscatine County Fair board as well as other supporters of the project noting the importance of the Muscatine County Fair, FFA, 4-H and other agricultural youth initiatives.

West Liberty FFA Chapter President Elysse Buysse, John Thorpe, President of Grain Processing Corporation and Kent Nutrition Group, and Fair Board President Adam Feldman. (Photo by Jacob Lane/West Liberty Index)

West Liberty FFA Chapter President Elysse Buysse, John Thorpe, President of Grain Processing Corporation and Kent Nutrition Group, and Fair Board President Adam Feldman. (Photo by Jacob Lane/West Liberty Index)


Work on the Swine Pavilion is nearly complete as the 2015 Muscatine County Fair approaches.  The construction kicks off a 5 to 10 year initiative to restore the entire fairgrounds.  Kent Corporations matching donation has made a project of this size and scope possible.  Kent Corporation is committed to giving back to local communities through projects like this and others.  To see the full initial article from the West Liberty Index, continue reading below.


The swine will shine

Restoration efforts kick off on the swine pavilion at the fairgrounds

Jacob Lane/West Liberty Index


Restoration efforts for the swine pavilion officially began Friday, March 27, at the Muscatine County Fairgrounds. The 100-year-old structure will be refurbished from top to bottom.


The Muscatine County Fair Board invited residents out to the pavilion for a ground breaking ceremony, thus officially beginning its restoration. “I’m honored to be here today,” said John Thorpe, President of the Grain Processing Corporation and Kent Nutrition Group. He spoke on behalf of the Kent Corporation. “Today’s ceremony and the swine pavilion project represent so much more.” Thorpe, along with Fair Board President Adam Feldman and West Liberty FFA Chapter President Elysse Buysse, posed for a photo, each representing the three intertwined groups working to improve the fairgrounds.


Last year the Kent Corporation donated $360,000 in matching funds to fix crumbling structures such as the pavilion. This sparked a full-scale fairground rehabilitation and nomination project for the Muscatine County Fairgrounds, situated in West Liberty.


Because of the rickety state of the swine pavilion and its position as a key structure to the fairgrounds, it was selected as the first of many rehabilitation projects to come.


The swine pavilion was originally built in 1918 and is used to house swine during the Muscatine County Fair’s swine show every summer. It’s located in the southern part of the grounds.


Peterson Construction will be in charge of restoring the structure. Right now the hope is to have it completed by the 2015 County Fair in July. Not only should the pavilion be usable, but it will help represent the ongoing restoration project.


Specifically, the construction crew will install a new steel roof, facia and exterior polls with post savers. The center trusses will be reengineered and modified to provide more support and strength.


It’s a bit of the old with a bit of the new. The purpose of the restoration is to keep the historic quality of the building alive while building up its integrity. For instance, they’ll leave two rows of historic pens for the pigs, but will also install several modern and modular pens back to back. The three levels of roofing will remain the same, but will also be strengthened.


However, Friday’s ceremony marked more than just the restoration of one building. It marked the beginning of a 5 to 10 year project to bring new life to the fairgrounds.


“The amount of historic structures on the grounds are what set the Muscatine County Fairgrounds apart from other Iowa fair grounds,” said fair board member Tim Nichols.


Besides rehabilitation, there is an ongoing effort by the fair board and the Muscatine County Historic Preservation Commission to nominate buildings for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).  “There’s been hundreds of hours spent to get where we are and there’s hundreds of hours of work yet to do,” added Nichols.


Around half of the buildings on the fairgrounds could be considered historical structures. Successfully being placed on the NRHP would provide funds and grants for future rehabilitation and upkeep.


Finally, Nichols emphasized the importance of the fairgrounds and its structures, especially when it comes to Muscatine County’s many 4-H and FFA programs.


So far, the fairgrounds has been successful in raising matching funds during the first year since the Kent Corporation made the donation. In total the fairgrounds has raised around $460,000.