TheGreat Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board of directors has awarded $157,103 to San Miguel County to professionally revamp the arena at the county fairgrounds in Norwood. 

The county was one of 17 projects GOCO selected for funding in its grant cycle, and county officials said they are quite pleased. According to Janet Kask, County Parks and Open Space Coordinator, the county will provide a 25 percent match for the grant, which will offset the total cost of the $209,471 project.

Many user groups are no doubt thrilled with the news of the grant award. County officials said they are proud that for at least four generations the fairgrounds has been home to the annual San Miguel Basin Fair and Rodeo. Other groups, like the Wright’s Mesa Gymkhana Club, Norwood Roping Club and local dressage enthusiasts have used the venue for decades, too. 

Additionally, three new youth 4-H clubs as well as two new chapters of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) will be on site enjoying the improvements. And, equine experts like Madison “Mustang Maddy” Shambaugh will be better able to produce their clinics and demonstrations at the fairgrounds in the future. 

Kask said the news was great for the fairgrounds.

“This will enable the county to proceed with a much-needed project of upgrading the existing outdoor arena by replacing the footing, improving the drainage, and replacing the exterior fencing,” she said. “We're excited for this project to commence, as it will benefit all fairgrounds user groups.”

Commissioner Kris Holstrom said she was also quite happy to hear the news and excited to see the finished results of the upgrade. 

“We are pleased and excited …,” she said. “Once completed it will significantly improve these well-used facilities. The board of county commissioners salutes all those involved in the grant application process. San Miguel County is providing a significant match for the project total of $200,000. … We so appreciate the efforts of everyone involved in putting the grant application together, and look forward to enjoying the improvements for many years to come.”

DeeAnna Burbridge, Fairgrounds Coordinator, has helped work on the grant application process the last few years. Burbridge, also a horsewoman, knows first-hand the difference the new footing and drainage improvements will make for those who use the arena. 

"Pretty exciting,” she told The Norwood Post on Monday. “We will have first class footing and fencing. Who knows what kinds of events this will attract to our community? But, most importantly, we know that our riders and horses will be safe.”

Burbridge added that the western traditions of the community will be supported for many more years because of the upgrades. 

To date, GOCO has invested $10.4 million in projects in San Miguel County and has conserved more than 15,600 acres of land. GOCO funding has supported the San Miguel County Down Valley Park, the grandstands at Telluride Town Park, and the Norwood Recreation District baseball field, among other projects.