Henderson County Regional Fair Park Board member Lee Tackett told the Athens Kiwanis Club on Tuesday that things will be brighter this year at the facility. Not that the place hasn’t been busy in the past.

The Fair Park coliseum now has new lighting that will not only be more energy efficient, but will also make the events in the arena easier to see. Tackett said the lights were purchased at a cost of $142,000.

“According to our estimates, it will pay for itself in energy savings in seven years,” Tackett said.

Another change, that may not be as noticeable to the public are additional horse stalls that have been added.

The stalls are a big income generator for the Fair Park. There are now 194 in the front barn and 124 in the back barn.

“We really don’t make our money from the rental of the main arena or the J.D. Lewis Arena,” Tackett said. “Where we make our money is from the horse stalls, the RV hookups and the shavings.”

The Fair Park Complex covers 64 acres, has two covered arenas and one outdoor arena. The calendar is full almost every weekend of the year.

“This year, we expect 45,000 to 55,000 visitors to come through the facility,” Tackett said.

Tackett said the 2 percent county hotel/motel tax allocated for the facility has been a big boost for Fair Park funding.

  “In all honesty it really kind of put us where we needed to be, because we weren’t getting a city hotel/motel tax,” Tackett said.

  Another addition that helped improve the experience for those using the big arena was the addition of the large fans.

That makes a big difference in shows during hot days, which can occur most months of the year in East Texas.  

 The large fans now lower the indoor temperature at the 4,500 person arena by 10-to-15 degrees.

One of the 24-feet-in-diameter fans moves 337,774 cubic feet of air per minute over a 20,000 square-foot space.

The cooler conditions have helped keep the calendar full during the summer months.

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