Great news, after breaking ground in September, 2015, the Saralee and Richard’s Barn was dedicated on July 21st prior to the opening of this year’s Sonoma County Fair!
When Saralee Kunde was the President of the Sonoma County Fair Board of Directors in 2012, she created the Sonoma County Fair Foundation. Initially, she appointed herself and Ross Liscum as two sitting members of the Fair Foundation Board, along with Shari DeGraffenreid, Pat Emery and Les Perry as three Honorary members. Over the course of the first year, Shari stepped down due to other commitments, then Jack DeMeo, Marilyn Herzog and Terry Lindley were appointed to the Fair Foundation Board.
In the early Fair Foundation meetings, it was clear Saralee’s vision included adding a building on the fairgrounds property that could be used by 4-H and FFA members and also serve as a venue for the Farm Bureau and other organizations to promote agriculture in Sonoma County. In addition, the building could be utilized for interim events.
Upon Saralee’s passing in January 2014, a group of her close friends joined forces with the Sonoma County Fair Foundation to make her dream a reality. We started meeting every other Friday morning for these past 2+ years. A few local businesses that stepped up, who were willing and interested in helping us create Saralee’s vision, were Lafranchi Architecture, Wright Contractors and BKF Engineers.
Ken Lafranchi designed an approximately 12,0000-square-foot building with a commercial kitchen that would replace the existing sheep barns. As the meetings continued, a plaza that includes a water feature, engraved pavers and benches were added to the north side of the building. Arches have been sponsored by Redwood Credit Union and an olive grove has been sponsored by Summit State Bank, which both stepped up as major sponsors. This building would not have been possible without the leadership from Wright Contractors and the support from the local construction industry with many stepping up to contribute to its completion in just 11 months! And a tip of the hat goes to Tennis Wick and PRMD, who worked with the construction team from start to finish!
This barn will be the cornerstone for year-round agricultural education, whether the lesson be learned by a 4-Her or a youngster who’s never had the opportunity to experience agriculture first hand. It will bring the FFA Greeenhand together with at-risk youth and provide many opportunities to educate our local kids.
Our fundraising efforts have generated almost $2.6 million to-date, with a goal of slightly more than $3 million in our sights. Major sponsors include American AgCredit, the County of Sonoma, the Ernest and Ruth Finley Foundation, the Exchange Bank, Ovations FanFare LLP, Redwood Credit Union, Richard Kunde, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, Summit State Bank and Trione Vineyards & Winery. These major sponsors have been joined by more than 90 other local supporters who donated $5,000 to $50,000, plus more than 190 that sponsored an engraved paver in the plaza. Please consider helping the Sonoma County Fair Foundation close the gap on fundraising for this wonderful legacy that has been created!
Ross Liscum has been a Sonoma County Fair board member since 2003 (president in 2010) and a member of the Sonoma County Fair Foundation since its inception in 2013. The Sonoma County Fair Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, (Tax ID # 45-4827997). Saralee and Richard’s Barn project fund is a dedicated, stand alone account.