WOODSTOCK, Ill. — A new custom-designed barn will house beef
cattle entries at the McHenry County Fair, set for July 31 through Aug.
The George Dahm Memorial Beef Barn has been constructed on
the fairgrounds located in Woodstock, thanks to the donations and support of
numerous community members and businesses in this northern Illinois county. A
barn dedication will be held on the opening day of the fair.
“My dad was active in volunteering at the fair, so our
family decided we wanted to do something to memorize his activities at the
fair,” said Chris Dahm, the son of George Dahm. “Our family started the fund
with a donation, but it has been a real big effort from so many people who have
donated time, money and materials for this barn.”
In addition to George Dahm, several members of the Dahm
family have been involved in the county fair for many years.
“I was on the fair board for many years. My mom, Jane, was
the antiques superintendent for over 35 years, which she just gave up
reluctantly,” he noted. “And my sister, Angie Boe, runs the Art Department at
“The new beef barn will hold 183 head of cattle, and we have
gained 15 to 20 percent new beef entries this year,” said Ken Bauman, president
of the board of directors of the McHenry County Fair. “There will be six rows of
cattle, the stalls are 8-feet deep and there are 8-foot alleyways.”
The gates and posts were custom-made for the barn, and they
are all removable.
“Frank Kearns, who owns a welding business, helped us will
all of them,” Bauman noted.
The goal is for the fully-enclosed barn to be a
multi-purpose building for events throughout the year.
“And the fair might change 10 to 15 years from now as
agriculture gets replaced by suburban, so we are also thinking of the future,”
In addition to monetary donations, Bauman said, “companies
donated sod, gutters, mulch and anything you can think of for this
“We thought this might be an uphill battle to get this barn
built, but we were surprised and excited that the whole community responded so
graciously,” Dahm stressed.
“Without our volunteers, our fair would be struggling like
many other county fairs,” Bauman noted. “Our volunteers think nothing about
bringing a backhoe or skid loader here to help.”
This is not the first time the community has rallied to
construct a barn at the fairgrounds. Last year, a new swine barn was constructed
in memory of three 4-H members — Grant Fruin, Kevin Ziller and Jennifer Kearns.
“Those three young 4-Hers lived close to each other, and
their families were friends,” explained the fair president, who is the fourth
generation to operate his dairy and grain farm. “We have a 55-head Holstein
herd, we farm 1,700 acres of cropland and we have a custom harvesting business.”
And discussion has started about constructing another
building on the fairgrounds.
“We are considering a pavilion-style building with a
catering kitchen, restrooms and shower facilities that could set up to 200
people,” Dahm explained. “It will be heated and air-conditioned because there
are no banquet halls in Woodstock.”
The current building on the fairgrounds similar to this has
a small kitchen and restrooms that need updating.
“But this building is almost continually booked, so there is
a demand,” Bauman said.
“Our fair board does not just sit back — they make things
happen, and they are not just thinking two or three years out,” he stressed.
“They are looking long term.”
Replacing the temporary grandstands of the fairgrounds is
another project in the planning stages.
“We have grandstands that were taken down 20 years ago,”
Dahm said. “So we would like to re-erect them to seat 3,000 people.”
To provide an opportunity for more people to make donations
to the fair, the McHenry County Fair Foundation was set up this year.
“The foundation is holding memorial funds from another 4-Her
who died,” Bauman said. “We don’t spend the money in this fund until the family
says where they want it to go.”
“My family was contacted throughout the process of building
the beef barn,” Dahm reported. “That goes a long way with the family.”
“We feel that since we’re spending someone else’s money, we
have to do it in a manner they expect,” Bauman noted.
Last year, about 70,000 people attended the McHenry County
“My goal is 100,000 for this year,” Bauman said. “But the
weather will be a big factor.”
“The future of the McHenry County Fair is bright,” Dahm