Sunday, May 26, 2024

Hannagan family completes sale of Gordyville USA

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GIFFORD — Gordyville USA — home to a diverse array of events — will continue as an event center.

The Gordon Hannagan family closed the sale of the business Wednesday afternoon. A group of four out-of-state investors purchased the center.

Real estate agent Jon Fischer of Champaign said the names of the buyers won’t be released under terms of the sale.

The transaction comes nearly two years to the day that the property, located about 2 miles west of Gifford, was listed for sale — May 16, 2022.

The Hannagan family owned and operated the 31.1-acre property for 37 years. It includes a 144,000-square-foot main building, another 11,000-square-foot building, more than 1,000 square feet of office space and parking for more than 500.

The late Gordon Hannagan and his wife, Jan, established the center as an equine and auction showplace. It has been operated for several decades by their children and some of their children’s spouses.

Jim Hannagan, one of the four surviving children, who ran the Gordyville auction side of the business, said the sale was a “bittersweet” experience for the family.

They were ready to turn to a new chapter in their lives, but at the same time had a great emotional attachment to Gordyville.

Noted Fisher: “They poured their blood, sweat and tears in that place for 37 years. They’re exctied about more free time, but at the same token it’s kind of bittersweet because their dad built that business. It’s kind of hard to see that door close.”

In addition to Jim Hannagan, the center was owned by his siblings, Jody Quiram, Mary Hannagan and Eddie Hannagan, and Randy Frerichs and Hillary Hannagan, spouses of two of the deceased Hannagan children, Patti Frerichs and Buddy Hannagan.

“I’m sure mom and dad will be happy to learn who got it,” Jim Hannagan said. “It will always be an event center.

“It will help the community, which it always has. I’m sure (the new owners) are going to pump it up.”

Fisher said he was skeptical whether anyone would step forward and retain Gordyville as an event center and thought someone might buy it for warehouse space.

He said the Hannagan family faced a great challenge selling the facility due to its location. That and higher interest rates, which kicked in soon after it was first listed, prolonged the sale process.

“If this same facility was seven-eight miles right of I-57 in Rantoul, it probably would have sold within the first 30 days,” Fisher said. “Being kind of isolated out there, that eliminated quite a few potential buyers.

“I didn’t think I would find a buyer who would keep it an event center. I’m glad it’s staying an event center.”

Gifford Village President Adam Pannbacker said Gordyville has meant a great deal to Gifford.

“Gordyville’s always been an economic driver for Gifford between our restaurants and other businesses,” Pannbacker said. “It’s always brought people into the town and has been a good thing.”

Longtime Gifford Fire Chief Rich McFadden said Gordyville puts Gifford’s name in the public eye and has been vital to the community.

“The Hannagan family was very good providing the building for people to meet with different organizations about needs” following the November 2013 tornado that damaged Gifford.

Stepping into the role as the new Gordyville general manager will be Lisa Banga-Graham of rural Watseka.

Banga-Graham said all Gordyville staff will be retained. She said she has been working with the previous owners to learn the ropes and is looking forward to her new role.

“All my life I’ve been involved with horses — horse management — the last 30 years,” Banga-Graham said. “I’ve traveled all around the world. I’m coming back home home to get involved with Gordyville,” where she has been active in the past.

Banga-Graham said she has been a horse show announcer for about 28 years, starting at the Iroquois County Fair.

Banga-Graham said all events on the 2024 calendar will be retained, and some events might be added.

“I’m taking a look at the calendar,” she said. “They have a full schedule now. I’m looking to add some outdoor events. That have an outdoor area where they could show outside.”

Banga-Graham said tractor pulls might be one attraction that could be added.

In a prepared statement, the new owners lauded the “dedication and esteemed reputation” the Hannagan family brought to the Gifford community and Gordyville during the past 37 years.

“Our vision is to maintain and elevate Gordyville USA as a premier event center with continued support and enjoyment from the local communities for years to come,” they said.

They pledged to work closely with the Hannagan family to ensure “a smooth transition for all events scheduled in 2024.”

The 2024 calendar of events at Gordyville looks much the same as it has in years past with entries ranging from the Midwest Equipment Dealers Ag Expo to the Coaches vs. Cancer fundraiser, the monthly flea market, horse shows, barrel races and community craft show.

The Hannagan family called Gordyville USA “our pride and joy — a place where dreams were realized, friendships flourished and memories were etched into the fabric of our lives.”

In addition to numerous horse shows, Gordyville has hosted fundraisers such as the University of Illinois’ Coaches vs. Cancer, rodeos, country-music concerts, livestock events, trade shows and the Gifford community Christmas show.

Last October, Quiram said she saw a surge in attendance at Gordyville USA rodeos and credited it to the Paramount Network show “Yellowstone,” which debuted in 2018.

“It appeals to everything rodeo,” Quiram said. “Everybody wants to be a cowboy.”

Now it will be the new owners’ responsibility to plan for such events.

A Facebook entry Quiram posted Monday told how her late father had placed a message beside the center’s main light switch, reminding the last person out to turn off the lights.

The lights have gone off for the last time at Gordyville as a Hannagan family-owned center. It now enters a new era.

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