Pennington County will soon accept construction bids for a Central States Fairgrounds stalling barn — aka “horse hotel" — that the fair’s general manager said will attract more people and events throughout the year.
During a regular meeting Tuesday at the Pennington County Administration Building, the County Commission unanimously authorized the county’s director of buildings and grounds to advertise for bids. The bids are scheduled to be opened Sept. 10, and construction is scheduled to begin in October and end in May.
There is $950,000 in funding available for the project, including contributions of $550,000 from Rapid City, $200,000 from the county and $200,000 from the Central States Fair, which is the nonprofit entity that operates the fairgrounds on behalf of the county.
Ron Jeffries, general manager of the Central States Fair, told the commissioners that some horse owners from the South do not attend barrel-racing, team-roping and other wintertime events at the fairgrounds’ James Kjerstad Event Center because the Southern horses are not acclimatized to harsh winters.
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“Quite frankly, it’s a detriment for them to come up here,” Jeffries said.
The addition of a stalling barn closer to the event center than some existing stalls is designed to limit the exposure of those horses to winter weather. The new barn will be of metal construction and will include nearly 15,000 square feet of space.
People who stall their horses at the fairgrounds pay $25 per night, which Jeffries described as a major source of income.
“We operate what I call a horse hotel,” Jeffries said.