Storage space at Westmoreland Fairgrounds fills up quickly
The barns and buildings at the Westmoreland Fairgrounds — which are filled with livestock, displays and spectators in late summer — got new occupants Saturday.
Customers lined up on the first day fairground buildings were available for storage with tractors, boats, cars and SUVs to stash them indoors for the winter. The fairgrounds has rented winter storage space in its buildings for about 30 years, said fair President Craig Lash.
If it weren't for the storage program, fairgrounds' buildings wouldn't get much use in the winter, Lash said. Renting storage space is a way to make some money in the offseason, which helps keep ticket prices low for fairgoers come summer, he said.
“That's our main goal. It's not just a fairgrounds anymore; it's a business, and we try to run it as a business,” he said.
The fairgrounds charges $12 a foot for the season. Its buildings are not climate controlled.
On Saturday, customers came hauling trailers and campers and driving antique cars.
Kevin Miller of Unity Township said he has stored his camper at the fairgrounds for more than 10 years. It's more convenient and cost-effective than other nearby storage options, he said.
“It's good, it's close to home, it's easy,” he said.
The program is popular. All 8,000 linear feet of storage space booked early this year, with a waiting list of people hoping space would open up, said fair secretary Michelle Long.
Customer Dave Bungard, of Jeannette, has stored his camper at the fairground for the past three years. He reserves his spot months in advance.
“If you don't get your (reservation) in, you don't stand a chance of getting a spot,” he said.
Long said barns are filling up more quickly partially because there are more customers, but also because people are storing larger items, such as boats and RVs.
All stored items must be removed by April 7.
Tickets to the fair have remained at $7 because of alternative revenue sources such as the storage program, Lash said.
“That's less than the cost of a movie,” he said. “You get a whole lot more at the fair than you do at a movie.”