Structural Assessment for Buildings at Fairgrounds

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Sponsored by: County Administrative Office

Board decides to remove Main Exhibit Hall at fairgrounds

Map of fairgrounds showing four buildings closed due to structural concerns 

The Washington County Board of Commissioners approved a plan today to close and remove the 66-year-old Main Exhibit Hall on the fairgrounds in Hillsboro due to a "severe life safety hazard" identified in a recent structural report by Scott Edwards Architecture. The structural issues included concerns about each building's risk of losing stability during a significant earthquake, snow event, windstorm or, in the case of the Main Exhibit Hall, even holding up its own roof.  

By removing the 24,000-square-foot building immediately, board members hope to give staff at the Fair Complex as much time as possible to clear the area for safe usage during the Washington County Fair event July 26 to 29

The board asked staff to make repairs or consider other options for three additional buildings flagged in the structural report as having public safety concerns. These additional buildings, all constructed over 50 years ago, include the Milking Parlor, Sheep Barn and restrooms near the livestock area of the fairgrounds. All four buildings identified with life safety issues in the report were closed to the public when the report was first made available in February. 

The remaining buildings on the fairgrounds were also evaluated and found to be safe for this year's fair and other upcoming events. With some improvements and repairs, use of these additional facilities could be extended 20 to 30 more years, according to the report. 

Although no exhibitors were using any of the four buildings identified as unsafe at the time the report was issued, staff with the Fair Complex worked to quickly inform those planning to produce future events in the Main Exhibit Hall of the change in the status of the building. 

"We have kicked into high gear to plan for the fair and help ensure that these changes cause minimal disruption to our partners and the public," said Fair Complex Manager Leah Perkins-Hagele. "We appreciate the patience and support we have been shown by our event promoters and users of the Fair Complex as we work through this process." 

"These buildings have been part of our county's fair for decades, and are important to how the fair operates," said Andy Duyck, chair of the Washington County Board of Commissioners. "That said, our first responsibility is to the safety of the public and our own employees who are using or working in and around these buildings all year round." 

An advisory committee made up of representatives from the County Board of Commissioners, Fair Board, City of Hillsboro and various other stakeholders unanimously recommended the combined approach of removal and repairs earlier this month. A prior stakeholder committee, the Fairgrounds Advisory Task Force, recommended a master plan for the Fair Complex in 2009, including the phasing out of several of the existing buildings as funding materialized over time for new facilities, including the construction of a new Event Center. The county is currently completing design work on the Event Center and plans to begin construction toward the end of 2018.  

"We need to work together to fulfill the vision from the Fairgrounds Revitalization process, starting with the new Event Center," said Andy Duyck. "With help from our partners at the Washington County Visitors Association and the City of Hillsboro, our hope is that a fully built and operating Event Center will fill a niche in the market place and that our success will have spill-over effects benefiting the maintenance and improvements for other parts of the fairgrounds." 

More information about the Washington County Fair and the county fairgrounds can be found at their respective websites. 

Philip Bransford, Communications Officer, Washington County Administrative Office, 503-846-8685,  

Lisa DuPré, Marketing and Events Coordinator, 503-648-1416, Ext. 206,