Interim indoor arena nears completion

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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Originally intended to go up at a mine in northern Saskatchewan, a repurposed metal building has become an interim arena and future community hall.

 

The 14,000-square-foot building at the Red River Roping and Riding Arena site in the RM of Buckland is phase one of three in the replacement of a facility that collapsed under heavy snow in February of last year.

“We’ve got people itching to get in there and ride,” arena manager Michelle Hofstra said this week, adding that the interim arena should open within a couple weeks.

“All of the activities that have been put on hold because we didn’t have a facility for the winter -- we can hold those again.”

The site’s mainstay rodeo events are cleared to continue alongside dog obedience and trials, archery and various other activities that have taken place in the arena since a small group of people came together in the ’70s to build the first roping and riding arena.

“It’s one of the very few places where you’ve got six-year olds and 80-year-olds doing the same events at the same time and they learn from each other,” Hofstra said.

“You’ve got a whole wide range of generations that can do the same activities, and everybody has fun.”

Club president John Beaulac said that the initial 14,000-square-foot building set to open in a couple weeks was an unexpected surprise that allowed them to re-open much earlier than previously anticipated. 

“Our original plan was to do a bigger building that would have included the riding arena and hall under one roof, but when were able to get this building and put it up right away, that gave us the opportunity to do the interim riding arena and do the three-phase project,” he said.

“We were able to purchase this building because it had been abandoned, so we got the building at a good price …  So, that’s why we changed our plan.”

The final numbers aren’t in yet, but the building’s previously estimated cost of $375,000 was on the high end, he added.

While the 14,000-square-foot building operates as the interim arena, the permanent arena is cleared to reach the construction phase this summer.

The 30,000-square-foot steel building will be attached to the interim arena and will include a riding arena and stalling barn.

Estimated at $1.3 million, the permanent arena is expected to open next year.

After activities move from the interim arena into the permanent one, the interim arena will not go to waste, Beaulac said, noting that the third phase will see the interim arena converted into a community hall, canteen, lobby and office building expected to open in 2016.

We’ve got people itching to get in there and ride Michelle Hofstra

This third and final phase is projected to cost about $800,000.

“It’s starting to come together,” Beaulac said. “For some of us, it’s not happening quick enough, but I know for some others looking from the outside they’re surprised at how fast we’re bouncing back.”

The close-knit community that uses the Red River Roping and Riding Arena have joined the local area business community in supporting the renewal effort, he said, noting that financial donations have joined the donation of labour in making their ambitious dream a realistic one.

“There are so many businesses -- I’d hate to mention one or two because we’re going to forget some,” he said.

“We have the community support,” Hofstra said. “We have local businesses helping us out, and we hope we’ll have a lot of individual people coming back and new people coming to the new facility.”

The first big event to be held at the new building will be the annual All Night Ride, Hofstra said.

The annual fundraiser will begin at noon on May 3.

“We’ve got gymkhana games planned, a potluck supper, we’ll team pen in the indoor arena in the evening,” she began, adding that the area’s 4-H Club has various activities planned to bring the group through the night.

Gymkhana is a blanket term for games on horseback, from egg-on-spoon races on horseback to a unique race where participants must be the first to have their horse step on an egg.

“Anyone who wants to participate in the all night ride can get a pledge sheet from me, they can give me a call, email me, Facebook me and I can send them a pledge sheet.”

A sanctioned team-penning event is scheduled for May 10 to 11, during which athletes will come from a wide area to participate.

For more on the arena effort, visit the club’s website at www.rrrr.ca. Hofstra can be contacted at 306-763-3434.

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