By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — On Monday night the city’s board of public works approved what will become a permanent stage servicing the Grandstand at Marshfield’s Central Wisconsin State Fairgrounds. A conditional use request for construction of the stage was also approved by the city’s plan commission on Tuesday night. The Marshfield Common Council still must give final approval for the stage.
Pending final council approval, though the land the stage will occupy is city-owned, no city funds will be used in its construction, said Central Wisconsin State Fair Executive Director Adam Fischer. Instead, the stage will be funded via an estate gift and will be named the Russell R. Wenzel Stage. Because it is an estate gift, Fischer said the stage would have no impact on the fair’s annual operating expenses.
Currently, a temporary stage is put together for performances at the Central Wisconsin State Fair each summer and then disassembled. The Central Wisconsin State Fair Association hopes to construct the permanent stage before the beginning of the fair this summer and then also potentially use it to attract other entertainers throughout the year.
“I think if we could get another three to six (additional) events, just to start, would be a good thing,” Fischer said. He later added, “Entertainers love working with a permanent stage, so I think on one end it will attract entertainers to want to work with the fair. It also will save costs for the fair, which means we can start putting money into other places, to bring up other areas, so to me it’s a win-win because of that.”
The Grandstand has a capacity of 3,500 people.
“We will probably have one of the bigger stages in the whole central Wisconsin area, which excites me too,” Fischer said.
The cost of constructing the nonpermanent stage each year, Fischer said, is between $10,000 and $20,000 annually. Fischer said the hope was that the permanent stage would cost “somewhere between $120,000 and $150,000.”
“With the 100th anniversary of the Round Barn, we kind of want to tie in this capital improvement with that,” Fischer said.
The stage itself will be a 3,000-square-foot raised concrete area. It will be open air with no permanent roof proposed. Because the land on which the stage will be built is city-owned, construction of the stage will need to be publicly bid, Fischer said. The discussion of building a permanent stage has been ongoing for about the last five years, Fischer added.
Two residents who live near the fairgrounds expressed concern at Tuesday’s plan commission meeting about additional events being held at the venue, both in terms of excess noise or extra dust when cars pack parking lots at the fairgrounds.
“It’s been (an) issue for some time. (We’ve) lived here 23 years, and we get (an) east wind or southeast and we taste the dust on our lips when we’re outside,” said David Hirsch, who lives on East 14th Street in Marshfield.