Council approves $3 million to start Fairgrounds renovation project

by Jul 19, 2022NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments


One Feather Staff


The Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds is in need of renovation to the point that the annual Cherokee Indian Fair, the largest annual event of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), is not able to be held there safely.  Tribal Council approved $3 million, during its regular session on Thursday, July 14, to get that renovation project started.

Council approved Res. No. 346 (2022) unanimously by all present (Vice Chairman Albert Rose and Wolftown Rep. Bo Crowe had excused absences) which approves the funding and “authorizes the Project Workgroup to demolish the current Fairgrounds facilities and develop a comprehensive master plan to remodel the Fairgrounds to be executed by the EBCI Project Management Office”.

EBCI Commerce Secretary Christopher McCoy, who submitted the legislation, commented during discussion on the matter, “We’re re-building for a more modern look.  We have leaky buildings, pest control issues.  The facilities and infrastructure are really looking bad at this rate.  And, so we have an idea for something that is really going to be great for our community.  I think it is going to impress everybody and get everybody excited about what we can do here and provide another outlet for our people to have nice events.”

The $3 million was broken down in the resolution in estimated costs including: Demolition – $1 million and Soft Costs and Fees – $2 million.  Secretary McCoy said he doesn’t feel the entire amount will be used and he expects to roll the extra over to the main portion of the project.

Big Cove Rep. Teresa McCoy said, “I do understand that in going through life you do have to crack those eggs to get that omelet, and this is one of those opportunities where this money is going to be spent in our downtown for something that belongs 100 percent to us.  It has an opportunity to make money for the Tribe…I believe it will bring people to the Cultural District, and I look forward to the changes being made.”

Secretary McCoy said the renovations will not be completed next year, but he said they should be ready for the 2024 Cherokee Indian Fair.

“This will get us moving at least so we can expedite this.  Every month that we kick it down the road is another month that we might not get to have a Fair there.  So, we’re trying to move these things as quickly as we can, but we’re also looking to be fiscally responsible.”

He added, “We won’t have to mess with this for 30 to 50 years.  I think it will be a fantastic product.  I’m excited.”

In May, the One Feather reported that the 2022 Cherokee Indian Fair would not be able to be held at the current Fairgrounds due to safety issues stemming from a crack found in one of the support tubes on the canvas top over the amphitheater.  According to a report from Phoenix Engineering and Consulting, Inc., based in Woodstock, Ga., there is a five-inch crack in one of the vertical legs of the canopy at the Fairgrounds.

Travis Sneed, EBCI Project Management director of support services, told the One Feather in May, “What we’re seeing is the first stages of a structural failure.  The engineering firm and EBCI Risk Management have determined that it is unsafe to be under it (canopy) from this point on…a high wind event could come through and cause considerable damage or cause it to fail.  So, at this point, we don’t want anyone to be underneath it.”

In May, following the announcement concerning the state of the Fairgrounds, Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed told the One Feather, “We have a great opportunity to turn this negative news into something extremely positive for our community.  Updates to the current Fairgrounds and Exhibit Hall are long overdue.  This challenge gives us the chance to create a wonderful venue for EBCI citizens and visitors to enjoy for years to come.  This renovation is just the first phase in a strategic revitalization of downtown Cherokee.”