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Anyone who has been away from Henderson County for a few years will notice upgrades to the Fair Park Complex and the improvements are ongoing.

Fair Park Board Chairman Bob Miars told the Athens City Council on Monday paving will continue in the parking lot and more stalls are being added.

Stalls are a big money maker for the Fair Park, so new ones are cycled in when funds are available. The city is allocating $19,496 from Tourism Development Grant funds to help with the purchases this year. The grant comes with a 50% match from the Fair Park.

Miars said the arena is booked for 50 weekends this year. About the only way they can make a substantial change in revenues is to replace some of the three-day weekend shows with four or five day shows.

"That's hard to do," Miars said.

One difficulty facing the Fair Park is there just aren't enough hotel and motel rooms in Athens for all of the travelers who would attend one of the major events. An example is the National Santa Gertrudis Junior Heifer Show that came a few years ago, bringing contestants from 15 states. Miars said the annual event is held at a different location each year. Although show officials liked the Athens venue, there just weren't enough overnight accommodations in and around Athens to bring it back.

Miars said a ribbon cutting celebration is set for Tuesday for the remodeled driveway entrance to the property.

The improvements were to enhance the eye appeal of the entrance and make it a bit safer for those coming to the complex and the Senior Citizens Center from State Highway 31.

The project was paid for with money Keep Athens Beautiful was awarded by winning the 2017 Governor's Community Achievement Award. The award, was from TxDOT and Keep Texas Beautiful in the amount of $160,000 as part of the Right-of-Way Beautification Program. Athens was among 10 Texas communities selected to receive it.

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