OURAY COUNTY – The historic Ouray County Fairgrounds has emerged into the 21st century, with a brand new rodeo arena already installed, and new modern grandstands nearing completion, just in time for the Ouray County Labor Day Fair and Rodeo.
Volunteers with the Ouray County Rodeo Association recently finished installing a new prefabricated rodeo arena to replace the old one which was torn down earlier this summer, said OCRA spokeswoman Erin Stadelman.
Completion of Phase 1 of the grandstands replacement project is also virtually complete; the old grandstands structure has been demolished and a new steel and aluminum stadium-style structure has been erected in its place.
In April, the Ouray County Commissioners unanimously authorized the county to enter into a construction services contract with Southern Bleacher Company, Inc. of Texas to construct the new grandstands.
According to Ouray County Administrator Connie Hunt, the bleachers and most of the roofing have now been installed, and an inset press box was popped into place on Tuesday this week, paving the way for the remaining roofing structure to be completed. A stand-alone announcer’s booth is slated for installation on Friday.
Infrastructure work associated with the grandstands replacement project is also progressing well, Hunt said. Ditches have been trenched and conduit is currently being installed for electrical and speaker wiring. Following the installation of the inset press box and announcer’s booth this week and next week, a new speaker system will be installed in time for the upcoming Labor Day Fair and Rodeo.
In short, “Everything seems to be on track,” Hunt said. “Ouray County Facilities Manager Will Clapsadl is doing an outstanding job as project manager for the County. He has and is ensuring that the project deliverables are accomplished and that all the tasks are accomplished in the time allotted so that all is ready to go for the Fair and Rodeo weekend. The contractors are doing excellent work and the County is very excited to see the final outcome.”
The $540,000 grandstands project broke ground early this summer, and is currently on schedule and under budget, Hunt said. However, fundraising efforts are still underway to help offset a grant match which the county fronted through its cash reserves after one of two foundation grants it was pursuing to help fund the project fell through.
“We are still trying very hard to raise funds to help offset the cost,” Hunt said.
A significant portion of the grandstands project is funded through a $350,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant which was awarded to Ouray County last December. The county also received a $20,000 grant from the El Pomar Foundation to help pay for the project.
Generations of locals witnessed the spectacle of the annual Labor Day Rodeo from the vantage of the rustic old grandstands at the Ouray County Fairgrounds. Their WWII era construction – replete with wood plank seating on a dirt mound platform – was built with shelter, not comfort, in mind. Shelter not only from the elements, but also, seemingly, from the ravages of time.
But times’ ravages finally caught up with the grandstands last year when they were condemned for safety reasons, launching an ambitious effort by county staff and elected officials to raise enough money to tear down the old structure and replace it with a new one.
The full grandstand project will take place in two phases. Phase 1 project components encompassed demolition, engineered foundation work, utility rough-in, purchase and installation of a new sound system and construction of steel/aluminum, covered, ADA approved, stadium-style grandstands with approximately 1,500 seats, press box and announcer’s booth. This phase should be completed in time for the 2014 Labor Day Fair and Rodeo.
Phase II, to be addressed in the future, will include public restrooms and concessions.
As attention coalesced around the need to replace the grandstands, members of the Ouray County Rodeo Association raised the alarm last fall that the the old cattle chutes, holding pens, guard rails and other elements that make up the rodeo grounds had also deteriorated to the point of becoming obsolete, and even dangerous.
OCRA developed a plan to wipe the grounds clean and rebuild them. Preifert Manufacturing, a company that makes animal handling equipment, metal panels, headgates, squeeze and roping chutes, offered OCRA a “smokin’ deal” on a setup for a prefabricated, “snap-together” combination roping and roughstock arena. Last spring, an anonymous angel donor came through with a $125,000 donation to purchase and help install the setup.
Ribbon cutting ceremonies celebrating the new grandstands and rodeo arena are planned for Aug. 28 at 4:30 p.m. and Aug. 30 at 4 p.m. respectively.