It was a proud day for members of the Wallowa County Fair Board.
Sunday, April 13, was the day they invited the community in to see the many improvements made at Cloverleaf Hall in the past year, especially the hall's new commercial kitchen. Among the goodies served at the open house were chocolate cookies, baked by fairgrounds manager Randy Garnett, with the able assistance of fair board member Greg Johnson in the new stainless steel double-oven range.
While community members came into the hall in a steady stream Sunday afternoon, two cuts of prime rib roasted in the two ovens as part of a special dinner planned after the reception. The board was feeding the 2002 Leadership Wallowa County group that adopted the Cloverleaf kitchen update as its community service project, raising $18,000 in cash, plus a number of in-kind donations.
"We couldn't have done it without them," said more than one fair board member. "We've had a lot of community support."
The kitchen upgrade, including remodeling the front restrooms to be handicapped accessible, has cost about $37,000 so far. The county pitched in some hotel/motel money and other county funds to finish the project.
The kitchen is now commercial grade, suitable for cooking for large groups of people. It has been remodeled so that the meeting area next to the kitchen is now closed off into a seperate room, but still handy for serving. A large commercial refrigerator matches the new range, and two large stainless steel tables on wheels double as extra counter area in the kitchen. There are also two new steam units to keep food hot.
Still to come are a dishwasher, pots and pans, a large dish set and kitchen implements, $10,.000 worth in all, to be paid out of a Rural Development grant from the U.S. Forest Service. Also coming out of the grant will be a new well on the fairgrounds property, to cut costs on and improve irrigation on the grounds.
The goal of the fairboard is to increase community usage of the Cloverleaf Hall and the fair grounds in general. The Cloverleaf is the largest meeting facility in Wallowa County. One project underway is a fundraising effort to buy at least 40 eight-person round banquet tables for the hall.
Other recent Cloverleaf improvements include new paint, new windows and new doors.