Work began last week at the Delaware County Fairgrounds to repair roofs of several buildings damaged during two windstorms in the past year.

Work began last week at the Delaware County Fairgrounds to repair roofs of several buildings damaged during two windstorms in the past year.

Fair manager Phil Terry said the remnants of Hurricane Ike, which produced 75-mph winds last Sept. 14, caused the majority of the $420,774 in damage.

The second storm came through Feb. 13, causing additional damage to some roofs and new damage to others, Terry said.

The fair was in its second day when the first storm blew through.

"It couldn't have come at a worse time," Terry said. The fairgrounds were evacuated at 4:15 p.m. and all races that night were canceled, costing the fair money that would have come in from wagering, admissions and other patron purchases.

The next day, with minimal power from generators, the fair opened later in the day and didn't charge admission. A few wagering machines were available for that day's races, but wagers were down nearly $160,000 from what was expected. Attendance also was down the rest of the week as people stayed home to take care of their own property damage, Terry said.

The fair lost about $325,000 in expected income last year from all sources, he said.

The 2009 fair will be leaner. About $200,000 was cut from the budget, Terry said.

While fair organizers are trying to minimize the effect on patrons, some of the cuts will be noticeable, such as fewer flowers and fewer courtesy cars to move people around the fair site, and fewer workers to park cars, he said.

In addition to the roof work, other work is being done at the fairgrounds to prepare for the 176th fair, which runs Sept. 19-26. The work includes painting, weeding and the installation of new stalls in one of the horse barns, thanks to the help of volunteers, county jail inmates and juveniles serving community service hours, Terry said.

For the past few weeks volunteers have been at the now-closed Germaine Amphitheatre off Polaris Parkway removing the theatre seats, which Germaine officials donated to the county fairgrounds. They are being installed at the grandstands.

"Not only are they more attractive and comfortable than what we had, it will also save us money for chair rentals," Terry said.

Anyone who would like to volunteer can contact the fair office at (740) 362-3851.

As he prepares the fairgrounds for this year's fair, Terry said he has one request.

"Please let it be 72 degrees and sunny skies. Last year's fair was one for the ages."