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Local News

September 4, 2013

Nice breeze coming to SCF&EC

DUNCAN — Cooler air should be blowing through the Stephens County Fair & Expo indoor arena soon, bringing more comfort to people and animals alike.

The Board of Stephens County Commissioners agreed Tuesday to buy 14 Big Ass Fans — that’s the name of the product and the Lexington, Ky. based company — and have them installed from ceilings of the fairgrounds arena and adjoining areas.

The price tag is $108,255, but officials say it will be well worth it and should eventually pay for itself.

“It’s going to be cooler in there,” said County Commissioner Dee Bowen. “The 5- to 7-mile-per-hour winds will make you feel more comfortable and it will save money in the long run on electricity.”

Bowen and Mike Anderson, director of the Stephens County Fair & Expo Center, said they have been to arenas with the fans and can tell a big difference.

If the fans live up to their billing, they could drop the temperature in the arena by up to 20 degrees in the summer when all fans are running.

“It’s going to make such an impression,” Anderson said. “It will make it more comfortable for the people and the participants and the animals — by far.”

That, he said, should result in bigger crowds, more money for sponsoring organizations and the fairgrounds and more tax dollars spent in Duncan and the county.

It also could help the fairgrounds, already the host site for numerous events that together draw thousands of people each year, add more and bigger gigs.

“We always say we want people to come here happy and leave here happier, and we do our best to make that happen,” Anderson said.

He said it costs about $7,000 a month in electricity to keep the arena and adjacent buildings cool in the summer, and the air-conditioning is often turned off in the arena.

Even when it’s on, the arena can be stuffy and a lot of cool air is lost when people are going in and out.

The fans will help move air throughout the areas, helping the AC do a better job when it’s on and even make things cooler when it’s off. In the winter, the fans will push warm air downward.

Some organizations, such as the 4H Club that holds an event in May, cannot afford to rent the arena and pay the extra costs for air-conditioning. So they do without the AC.

“They have kids from all over the state and they’re in their coats and ties and dressed up and they are just bleeding (in the heat),” Anderson said. “I feel sorry for their horses and them and I thought, “We have to do something.’”

So he looked into the fans and floated the idea with commissioners. He was shocked and pleased the commissioners voted to buy 14 of the fans all at once, but said it was the right way to go about making such a big improvement.

A contract for the fans should be signed soon and in the next few weeks, eight 24-foot fans will be installed 25 feet above the arena floor - four on each side - and one will be placed above the front entrance area.

Three 18-foot fans will be placed in the adjacent vendor areas and two more will be above the livestock arena area.

Glen Beck of Bowie, Texas, a distributor of the fans, told commissioners they are so quiet that people in the arena shouldn’t hear them.

He said all arenas with the fans have seen attendance and revenue increase after they were installed. Each fan costs about 10 cents per hour in electricity to run — much less than air-conditioning.

Anderson said the American Bucking Bull Wildcard Event is coming to the fairgrounds on Sept. 28 and he would like to have the fans installed by then. If not, they should be up and running soon after that.

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