EL RENO – A dream came into fruition Monday as the new Canadian County Fairgrounds and Expo Center was unveiled to the public in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
State, county and local officials were on-hand to take part in the culmination of a project to replace what is now the 65-year-old former facility. Ground was broken more than a year ago leading to Monday’s celebration and a new era in the history of the county.
“I love the way the county fair connects us to our traditional values,” Commissioner Dave Anderson said.
Commissioners Marc Hader and Jack Stewart joined Anderson in providing comments and thanking the many involved in the project. There was plenty of praise to pass around in the entryway to the arena, which was standing room only.
“I appreciate the fair board,” Hader said. “It has been a collaboration between these two bodies to move this project forward.”
Among the state dignitaries on-hand was Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader, who had a great seat for the program in support of her husband, Commissioner Hader. It led to a light-hearted moment when it was pointed out Stewart had overlooked when introducing the state officials.
“I’m just thrilled to see it come together,” Crosswhite Hader said. “It truly has been a team effort and I’m proud of the county commissioners.”
Stewart pointed out the fairground facility was built with future growth in mind. He also said he didn’t know what to expect in terms of attendance and thanked everyone.
“This is a major, major upgrade from what we have had in the past 65 years,” he said.
Despite the ribbon-cutting, the facility has already begun hosting events, making use of the new arena. Students began to take over the arena in force to show animals Tuesday. There is also a rodeo scheduled this weekend.
“As a parent of former FFA students, this project has been anticipated for several years,” State Rep. Rhonda Baker said. “To see it come to fruition has been a true pleasure and the excitement this brings to the citizens of Canadian County is rewarding.”
The investment is expected to reap benefits beyond the county fair, as the arena will provide a venue for future events that bring in both hotel and sales tax.
“We are looking forward to seeing the economic impact this has on the fastest growing county in the state,” Renee Peerman, Mustang Chamber of Commerce CEO and director, said.
State Rep. Brian Hill was also excited to see the economic impact the facility will have on the county. He was excited about the opportunity for growth in the family programs that take centerstage during the fair, as well.
“This is a great opportunity for our families, for our children to continue their love for our community and agriculture,” he said. “I look forward to seeing all this develop for all of Canadian County.”
The immediate reaction is one of excitement. As the ribbon was cut, the expo hall waited to be visited with excited participants looking for a blue ribbon.
The Midway was lit up to accept screaming children of all ages and provide funnel cakes to everyone. All those who made the facility possible began looking forward to another great chapter for the county.
“One of the greatest gifts ever bestowed upon Americans is the right to own property and to use it how we deem fit,” Rep. Jay Steagall said. “Agriculture is still one of the leading industries in the state of Oklahoma, thanks to the contributions of our farmers and ranchers, who work around the clock in an effort to provide a wide range of commodities to feed not only themselves, but our state, country and many others around the world.
“I’m very proud of the work our county commissioners, fair board members, contractors and volunteers, who led to the development of such a wonderful facility, where the great folks of Canadian County can showcase their contributions to the agriculture community and so much more.”