Riley County Commissioners are supportive of creating a task force to determine the future of the Riley County Fairgrounds.

The KSU Foundation has proposed using their future livestock arena near the Stanley Stout Center as a centerpiece for what could become the new home of the Riley County Fair as well as the Kaw Valley Rodeo. The new 3,000 seat climate-controlled arena will break ground in January 2024.

Riley County Extension Director Gary Fike noted Monday that fair board members in January decided that addressing current parking issues and maintenance with its facilities at CiCo Park, including Pottorf Hall are necessary.

      0228 Fike 1

Fike says events held at the fairgrounds continue to bring in visitors from across the nation, but require more space.

      0228 Fike 2

A discussion regarding repairs to the current grounds, or moving part or all of the events to a new location was determined to be too early to call. There are some thoughts that it may be more cost-effective to move rather than investing in the current facilities, which the fair has nearly outgrown.

KSU Foundation President Greg Willems spoke to commissioners Monday. He says the new arena, combined with other investments, will help make the Edge Collaborative District a top travel destination in Kansas.

      0228 Willems 1

Willems says it’s early enough to explore how the district can host the fair and other events currently held at the fairgrounds.

      0228 Willems 4

Commissioners gave consensus Monday to create and appoint a task force to explore the best path forward. The committee should be established some time in March.