Farm Horizons, May 2008

Wright County Fairgrounds gets new horse arena

Horsing around will have a new meaning when the Wright County Fairgrounds gets its new and improved horse arena just in time for the fair at the end of July.

Ron Denn, the new horse superintendent, has only been on the job for six months.

“It’s quite a large task for only being horse superintendent for six months,” he said.

Denn, who has been a director on the fair board for two years, saw a need for larger horse facilities, especially after talking with some of the judges at last summer’s fair.

According to Western Saddle Club Association (WSCA) standards, the 236-foot-by-97 foot horse arena is too narrow, especially for barrel racing, Denn said.

Work has already begun on the new arena, which will be expanded to 264 feet by 127 feet, according to Denn.

This will accommodate the increasing demands on the facility, he said.

“I’m getting phone calls you wouldn’t believe and it’s not even built yet,” Denn said, who is excited for the new arena.

Besides the expansion, the wood fences will be replaced with metal panels, and a 100-foot round pen for warm-up will be built on the southeast corner of the existing arena.

The bleachers, which currently sit south of the arena, will be moved to the north side, making it more convenient for fair-goers. The announcers’ booth will also be moved about 20 feet to the north, due to the expansion of arena’s width.

The project is estimated to cost $35,549, which will be subsidized by the fair budget and possible grant funding, according to Denn.

Once the arena project is completed, Denn assured there will be no down time, especially during the fair.

“[The arena] is scheduled, beginning to end,” he said.

Programs during the fair include the 4-H horse show, which will be Thursday, July 24 and Friday, July 25; the WSCA Pleasure Show, hosted by Little Mountain Wrangler Saddle Club, Saturday, July 26; and a game show, Sunday, July 27.

Denn is expecting the off season, after the fair, to be quite busy, as well. Saturday, Aug. 23, the Wright County Fairgrounds will host the first annual Central Minnesota Donkey and Mule Fun Show.

Denn, past president of the Minnesota Donkey and Mule Association, back in 1983, wanted to try something new at the fairgrounds.

“I’ve participated in quite a few mule and donkey shows,” he said.

“There’s never been one, that we know of, this far north,” Denn said.

This will include classes and contests, including a top wrangler challenge, where contestants participate in timed events such as “Do the Chores,” “Get the Mail,” “Wrangle Your Long Ear,” and the “Pancake Wrangle.”

“[The Pancake Wrangle] is just a riot,” Denn said. “It’s quite an event. If you’ve never seen it, it’s kind of fun,” he added.

Denn is also open for suggestions and other event ideas for off season use of the new facility.

In a letter to Denn about the new arena, Donwin Peterson, president of the Little Mountain Wranglers, said, “We are excited about the proposed improvement to the horse facilities at the fairgrounds. An expanded arena and a designated warm-up area will be appreciated by all of us in the Wright County horse community.”

“Your commitment to enhance the horse area of the grounds will be certain to provide an enriched experience for horse people and fair goers for many years to come,” Donwin added.

Growing 4-H membership numbers, specifically in the horse project in Wright County, shows the new arena will definitely get used.

The Wright County 4-H Horse Program is the largest in the county and the fourth largest in the state, only behind Washington, Isanti, and Dakota counties, according to Katie Zintek, 4-H program coordinator.

Out of the 450 4-H members, the largest project is horses, which attracts a quarter of its members.

“The new arena will give the Wright County 4-H program a chance to continue and offer more programming,” Zintek said.

Denn’s daughter, Fredianna, 11, competes in 4-H horse shows and WSCA. She, too, is looking forward to the new facility.

“She is a horse fanatic,” Denn said.

A full-time farmer, Denn and his family live on a 600-acre farm near Monticello. He is one of the few full-time farmers left in the area, he said.

Denn is hoping the new horse arena will provide more entertainment and opportunities for those with equestrian interests.

To schedule an off-season event and use of the horse arena, contact Denn at (612) 423-0562. For information about the fair and a schedule of events, check out n

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