Expansion of offerings key to expo-center success

Wade McIntyre
Lindsey Hevert, 13, of Delhi, hoses down Honeybear, her cow, Thursday morning at Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales. They are competing at the 4H & FFA State Livestock Show this week.

Lamar-Dixon Expo Center General Manager John Vogt believes the center must expand the range and depth of offerings to the general public in order to be self-sufficient.

In his annual report to the Ascension Parish Council Tuesday, Vogt said operation and plant upgrades are underway in an effort to both attract new business and diversify current capabilities.

Current maintenance projects include demolition of the bleachers in the 4-H building that opened up 75,000 square feet of open exhibit space. The move was initiated with the ongoing BP contract that made a portion of Lamar-Dixon a staging area for moving boom equipment in the Gulf Oil Spill cleanup operation.

The 4-H project underway will enclose the open air structure. While the building was originally built to house livestock events, the renovation will convert it into a multi-purpose, air-conditioned reception hall and convention center that will still be used for livestock events, according to Vogt. A kitchen and new entrance at the building front are also planned.

Other projects underway include expanding wireless capability to include all buildings and RV areas, connecting the center water tower to the new Sheriff’s Department facilities under construction across the street, construction of a sewerage treatment plant, and painting upgrades.

Future projects at the Expo center, Vogt said, will include lighting upgrades, development of a landscaping plan and a manure disposal or composting plan. Lamar-Dixon will also encourage building a through connection to St. Landry Road, and installation of a traffic light and turn lanes at St. Landry and Hwy 30.

Lamar-Dixon’s 2011 projected revenue is $2,115,000, according to the general manager. He told the council total expenditures are expected to come in at $1,983,000, leaving a positive end of the year fund balance of $900,789.