A flurry of volunteer activity is remaking the horse facilities at the Vermont State Fairgrounds.
“We’re meeting every Thursday night — other than the Fourth of July,” organizer Andrea Hathaway-Miglorie said.
The facilities are being rebuilt and relocated from the southern end of the fairgrounds, where the arena was prone to flooding, to inside the main oval. The old racing barn is being refurbished and a second barn built. Hathaway-Miglorie said plaques have been sold in all 28 stalls of the first barn for $250 each, and they will sell the 32 stalls in the second barn for $350 each.
“A lot of them are from people memorializing their favorite 4-H horses or their favorite 4-H leader,” she said. “The first barn, hopefully, will be done in the next two or three weeks. We weren’t even thinking about getting the second barn done, but the first barn went so quick. ... It might be done this fall. It’ll depend on how the fundraising goes.”
On top of that, she said Markowski Excavating and Casella Construction are poised to begin work on the new arena.
“They surveyed it last week and they’ll be building it as soon as they can get the trucks to bring in the materials,” she said.
Students from Stafford Technical Center are scheduled to gather at the fairgrounds early next month as part of a “construction camp” and build the announcers booth, which will be named for Bill Rounds.
“He was a volunteer for 4-H and the area gymkanas,” Hathaway-Miglorie said. “He was mostly known for being an announcer.”
Naming rights for the barn and arena are still pending.
“We have so many people donating it’s hard to pinpoint one person,” she said. “It’s definitely a big community project.”
The new facilities will debut during the fair, which is scheduled for Aug. 13-17. On Labor Day Weekend, the fairgrounds will host what fair officials intend to be the first annual Vermont Horse Festival. Hathaway-Miglorie said the free event will feature three days of horse shows along with a farrier clinic and competition, and that 4-H has ideas for the new space behind that.
“We’re just going to spend the summer trying to fill up the evenings,” she said. “The lights around the track should shine into the arena so we’ll be able to use it at night. We might start having some Friday night gymkanas.”