Garfield County fairgrounds gets revamped
RIFLE – The Garfield County Fairgrounds are getting some much needed upgrades to improve the safety of the current facilities.”A lot of the upgrades were determined by how we could make the grounds safer,” said Assistant County Manager Jesse Smith. “The upgrades will make it safer for the people and the animals, too.”The outdoor arena is the focus of the project and has been completely stripped of the old “steel fence” panels that surround the arena. The arena will have new panels, part of which make up the bucking chutes, where the animals are held before a ride. The overall arena size will be slightly smaller as well, making it more like a professional-sized arena.”When it’s done we will have a more manageable facility,” Smith said.The panels are made to snap together for quick reconfigurations and will make rearranging the arena between events easier, safer, and more time efficient as well.”The old panels were just not that safe,” Smith said. “They were weathered, and some of them had old chain-link that was in bad shape.”Before the new panels can go into place, the arena floor will be regraded for better drainage. The area outside of the arena has been paved with blacktop to increase accessibility for handicapped people and to increase vendor space at events.Other upgrades also include replacing the interior stalls at the B-barn building, which is currently used to house competition animals. The facility currently has 140 stalls and has seen overcrowding recently.Last weekend’s horse reining competition at the fairgrounds attracted a large number of competitors, and the county had to bring in about 50 temporary stalls to accommodate all of the animals. Construction of a new barn, directly north of the B-barn, will add about 50 stalls, increasing livestock capacity and adding holding pens for rough stock, Smith said.”This will give us more flexibility for indoor and outdoor events,” Smith said. The county has purchased all of the new materials for the construction but will recycle as much as possible, Smith said.”We aren’t throwing anything away that we can still use,” Smith said, adding that some of the chutes will still be used as long as they are in good shape.Stripping the arena started around the first week of September. Smith estimates the work will conclude sometime in February.”The new facility will be ready before spring events start,” Smith said.Significant upgrades haven’t been made at the county fairgrounds for at least five years, Smith said.Total construction cost for the project will be around $260,000. The money comes from the county’s general fund, along with Colorado State lottery funds from the Conservation Trust Fund Program. According to Smith, Garfield County receives about $150,000 annually from the state program.Contact John Gardner: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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