Now in a trot, organizers of a proposed horse arena in Cherokee will be in full gallop when they kick off a fund-raising effort in association with the 27th annual Cherokee Ag-Day on Saturday, Aug. 23.
The group has formed a committee to discuss and pursue the possibility of constructing a multi-purpose horse arena on city property one block east of South U.S. Highway 59 near the East Beech and South' First Street intersection.
Organizers say the 200 x 280-foot arena would benefit the community in many ways by providing positive activities for area youths and other ' residents, plus impacting various Cherokee businesses.
Because the large tract of city land lies in the flood plain, the arena would be constructed of portable steel panels at a cost estimated at $25,000 to $30,000.
Public restrooms are already in place on city property near the Beech Street Lift Station, and there is ample parking in the greenspace areas which Stemmed from the city's flood relocation plan several years ago.
Spectators to all future events m the arena will he admitted free of charge.
There will be a portable concession stand constructed, with proceeds from concessions helping maintain the arena and its many activities. A crow's nest for announcers also will be built on stilts to satisfy the requirements for such structures located in a flood plain.
The Cherokee arena would be a place not only for area horse enthusiasts, but all area participants to practice and show their skills in events such as barrel racing, pole bending, cutting, team roping, calf roping, penning, reining, pleasure and halter classes. Rodeo and rough stock events will not be a part of the horse arena, organizers were quick to point out.
"These events often bring to a community large crowds not only to compete, but to watch and cheer on the competitors," said Cherokee saddle maker Bob Leach, a committee member and leader in the effort.
Organizers approached the city council several weeks ago and got quick approval of the arena to be built on city property when the council and mayor fully embraced the idea as a positive enhancement to Cherokee and its quality of life.
The group will begin its official fund-raising effort at Cherokee Ag Days on August 23. A flyer will be handed out that day and additional information on the fund-raising and how to make donations will he made public.
The fund-raising goal is to have all the necessary monies raised by May, 2004.
Among fund-raising efforts discussed are selling signage on the arena gates and panels, and by private and public donations. The possibility of naming rights might also exist if a major donor would surface.
Committee members also presented the city council a short list of area horse clubs and associations that are actively seeking area arenas to conduct their, seminars, shows and weekly competitions. The events are normally held in the spring, summer and fall months.
Among those area clubs and associations listed were the National Barrel Horse Association (NBHA), United Barrel Horse Association (UBHA), Open Horse Shows, Cherokee Cavaliers (4-H), Little Sioux Appaloosa Club, Little Sioux Ropers, Northwest Iowa Horse Show Association, team penning clubs, team sorting clubs, roping clinics, horsemanship clinics, and ranch horse clinics.
Memberships in those clubs and associations number from 30 to as high as 75 for each.
"I really think this horse arena is going to work out well for us," said city administrator Ron Strickland, who, along with mayor Dennis Henrich and city council members are strong supporters of the plan.
"It will be a good asset for the city, the public and our business community. It's just one more thing people will come to Cherokee for and we support it fully."
Cherokee Horse Arena members include Bob and Donna Leach, Brad and Diane Phipps, Phil Rupp, Steve Lundsgaard, Doug Woods, Mick Samsel, and Duane and Jo Lynn Heschke.
Anyone seeking additional information, or wishing to serve on the Arena Committee, should contact one of the committee members.