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Donation helps pay off Fairplex dairy barn project

The Friends of the St. Croix County Fairplex accepted a $2,500 check thanks to the America's Farmers Grow Communities grant program. Pictured (left to right) are - Kyle Mitchell, winning farmer who designated the gift for the Fairplex; Matt Cranston, Precision Ag/Countryside Cooperative representative; and Chris Libbey, president of The Friends of the St. Croix County Fairplex.

With more than 250 head of cattle being shown at the St. Croix County fair annually, the Dairy Project is the largest 4-H animal project at the St. Croix County Fair.

The Friends of the St. Croix County Fairplex will now be closer to completing payment for the fairground's new dairy barn, which now houses many of these cattle, thanks to one local farmer and America's Farmers Grow Communities.

Grow Communities gives farmers the opportunity to win $2,500 for their favorite local nonprofit organizations. Kyle Mitchell was the winning farmer in St. Croix County this year. He recognized the need for supporting projects like the new dairy barn and directed the donation to The Friends of the St. Croix County Fairplex.

"I grew up around the fair and always enjoyed it," said Mitchell. "I'm glad that I can contribute to its continued improvement."

The organization will use the $2,500 to help pay the remaining balance on the barn that was constructed in 2011.

"The new dairy barn is the first of four projects that The Friends of the St. Croix County Fairplex was formed to complete as part of Renovations for the Generations Capital Fund Drive," said Chris Libbey, The Friends of the St. Croix County Fairplex president. "The goal of the Fund Drive is to ensure continuity of the St. Croix County Fair for generations to come, by raising funds for renovations and new constructions, and to support vibrant programming."

In addition to building the second dairy barn, future plans include construction of a horse barn and a four-season event center, Libbey said.

In a ceremony held on May 12 as part of the annual May Fair event at St. Croix County Fairgrounds, Mitchell got the chance to present The Friends of the St. Croix County Fairplex with the $2,500 donation.

Through America's Farmers Grow Communities:

* Farmers in 1,245 eligible counties have the chance to win $2,500 for their favorite community nonprofit organizations.

* The Monsanto Fund has invested more than $3.1 million to rural communities this year alone.

* More than $137,500 in total has been donated to nonprofits in Wisconsin.

* A list of all winners and more information can be found at

"With all of the funds donated, we are now in a position to provide funding to the St. Croix County, Inc. to retire the loan on dairy barn number one, and begin raising funds for the fair directors to start construction of the second dairy barn," Libbey said. "Our stretch goal is to have it erected by the 2013 fair."

"A significant portion of the funds have been raised within St. Croix County, which shows the local support for the project, especially from the ag community and local businesses," Libbey said.

Grow Communities is part of a broad commitment by the Monsanto Fund to invest in farm communities such as St. Croix County. It aims to highlight the important contributions farmers such as Mitchell make every day to our society.

The Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Company, is a nonprofit organization.