Group honors Fair ag projects

The new Mission Square and commercial kitchen projects at the California Mid-State Fair have earned it top honors.

The International Association of Fairs and Expositions — a nonprofit corporation consisting of more than 1,300 fairs worldwide — chose the Paso Robles fair for its best of division agricultural award of excellence for the projects that opened this summer.

The county fair has won other awards from the association, officials said, but never one this high.

Mission Square is a roughly 10,000-square-foot venue with a mission-themed façade, table seating and a wine bar set to promote locally grown goods. It also features a small vineyard, six local wineries’ daily varietals for sale and music.

Officials hoped to market the $600,000 project to groups throughout the year for tasting events, ceremonies and dinners. The California Mid-State Fair Heritage Foundation, a charitable arm of the annual event, funded most of the project.

The 12-day fair competed against other large state events for the award, including the Missouri, Oregon and Kansas state fairs.

Among those who helped create Mission Square are Cal Poly agricultural business management students, who developed parts of it through senior projects and fair management classes.

The other project — a commercial kitchen and a demonstration area in one of the Paso Robles Event Center’s existing commercial buildings — was designed to host chefs from throughout the county for public demonstrations, cooking and food preparations.