Washington County to Build New Community Event Center
The new Washington County Event Center will be approximately 89,000 square feet and will include exposition space and a state-of-the-art conference center with commercial kitchen, concessions and offices. The spacious interior will be complemented by a large entry plaza adjacent to the lobby, and an outdoor exhibit area on the west, opening into the interior grounds of the Fair Complex. The new venue will offer various room configurations sized to accommodate consumer shows, conferences and trade shows, corporate meetings and seminars, banquets and receptions, fundraisers, festivals, spectator events and a variety of community uses. During the annual County Fair, the Event Center will provide ample indoor exhibit space, restrooms and concessions.
The evolving story of the Washington County Fair Complex is intertwined with the long, rich history of early pioneers who settled in the Tualatin Valley, raised their families, crops and livestock, and held the first ever Washington County Fair in October of 1854. Today, high-tech and world-wide manufacturing companies have become a part of Washington County's rich economic and culturally diverse landscape. These changes have contributed to the community spirit of that very first fair and the desire to celebrate and showcase a close connection to the land.
Over the generations, forward-thinking leaders purchased and developed a series of parcels of public land that would each serve as the County fairgrounds for a time. Eventually, the community would outgrow one site and move to another more suitable location that could accommodate a growing and changing population. From the site of the first fair in what is now Forest Grove, to a tract of land near Hillsboro's Shute Park, to its current location along NE 34th Avenue and Cornell Road, the Washington County Fair has evolved into one of the most popular and highly respected fairs in the region.
The Fair Complex Master Plan
In an effort to ensure long-term stability of the County Fair, as well as the ability of the Fair Complex to meet the needs of the wider community well into the future, the Board of County Commissioners initiated a strategic planning process in 2007. This effort led to the creation of a "Fairgrounds Master Plan" by a 15-member Fairgrounds Revitalization Task Force, representing a broad range of interests. Their work also included a comprehensive report which detailed their findings and recommendations to the Board. Ten years later, Washington County is now on the threshold of reaching one of the major milestones of the Master Plan.
As construction begins on the Event Center, a parallel effort also begins to update the Fair Complex Master Plan. This new round of planning will focus on the western portion of the Fair Complex site and identify multi-use improvements that would benefit county residents year-round. For more information and an estimated timeline, please visit https://www.co.washington.or.us/Fair/Fairgrounds/index.cfm.
Through leadership provided by the Board of Commissioners and the City of Hillsboro, along with input from numerous community stakeholders, a strategy has been developed to fund this community need without raising taxes. Major funding for the Washington County Event Center will come from the County's Gain Share and Transient Lodging Tax (TLT) revenue, along with an $8 million contribution by the City of Hillsboro (also through TLT) and $1 million from the Washington County Visitors Association (WCVA). The total budget is estimated at $46 million.
Following an official groundbreaking ceremony in September,
2018, a capital project team representing Washington County Facilities and
Parks Services, LRS Architects and Swinerton Builders is meeting regularly to
develop construction documents and conduct a thorough value analysis to keep
the project on time and on budget. The estimated completion date for the Washington
County Event Center is in the spring of 2020.
Monthly Event Center Project Newsletters
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