- Associated Press - Monday, June 12, 2017

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - An agriculture group that operates a youth fair in western Michigan has purchased 140 acres for a new fairgrounds and gathering space.

The Kent County Youth Agricultural Association announced Monday that it had purchased the Deer Run Golf Club in Lowell. The new property is expected to be converted into fairgrounds, a meeting center and campground for community events and private parties.

The association sponsors the Kent County Youth Fair, which has been held at its current location in Lowell since 1934. But the location has shrunk over past decades as the city and surrounding businesses grew, according to the fair’s manager, Jessica Marks.

She said the fair has drawn about 50,000 visitors, participants and exhibitors for each of the past three years.

“The fair gives youth a much needed exposure to agriculture and animals that they may never get otherwise,” said Jon Bieneman, president of the association. He noted that the fairgrounds also host music festivals, horse shows, seasonal events and other gatherings.

Funding for the purchase came from a $2.5 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., along with local foundations and donations by individuals.

The purchase agreement states the association will officially acquire the property in spring 2019. The transaction’s terms will be finalized at closing, which is expected to take place in September.

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