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Arena gets new fence

Will Holbert, 4, takes a swing on the livestock fence at the Island County Fairgrounds. Plans are underway to replace the grandstand fence this spring. This smaller livestock holding pen will be done at a later time. Will
Will Holbert, 4, takes a swing on the livestock fence at the Island County Fairgrounds. Plans are underway to replace the grandstand fence this spring. This smaller livestock holding pen will be done at a later time. Will's mother, Debbie Holbert, wrote the grant that will help pay for the new fence.
— image credit: Gayle Saran

The sporty new fence planned for the Island County Fairgrounds arena will have the strength to hold a herd of longhorns and will be provided a Texas company.

The Island County Fair Board accepted a bid last week from Rodeo West of Angelo, Tex. to provide heavy duty, 14-gauge steel, tubular fencing panels for the arena. The cost of the fencing project is expected to be about $22,000. That price includes the fence, delivery charges and Washington state sales tax. About $11,000 of the money comes from a grant. The fair will have to come up with $10,000 in matching funds. To date they have $7,700.

Fencing for the smaller livestock area will be ordered at a later date.

"We had hoped to order fencing for the livestock area at this time," said Debbie Holbert, treasurer of the Island County Fair board. "But we don't have enough in the budget for the extra 200 feet it would take to replace it. The sales tax for the arena fence put us right on budget."

She said Rodeo West has agreed to work with the fair board and "give us a good deal when we are ready to order the additional portion of fence." The grandstand fence will measure 676 feet.

The fair association received a special assistance grant of $11,135 in December from the state Department of Agriculture to help replace a 40-year-old arena fence and livestock pens located at both ends of the arena.

"Matching donations of money and or in-kind services are necessary to complete the project," said Holbert.

The board agreed to contribute $5,700 from its budget. The difference between the grant and cost of the project will have to come from donations and in-kind services.

Freeland's Danny Waterman volunteered his time to remove the old fence and ready the ground for the new one. Members of the Whidbey Western Games Association have volunteered to install the new fence, and are asking the community for more volunteer help.

The grant, written by Holbert, was one 58 presented to agriculture representatives in November in Ellensburg. The Island County Fair was one of 11 associations to receive a total of $100,000 in grants from the state.

Safety for people and animals was uppermost in the minds of board members when they made plans to replace the arena's fence. The board considered chain link fencing as an option, but decided against it because it posed a safety hazard and is not as strong as tubular steel.

Holbert said the board hopes to add a rodeo to the events at the fair. To do that, the fairgrounds needs to provide strong fences to protect rodeo participants and spectators.

The only company in Washington state to respond to the fair's bid solicitation was Skagit Farm Supply in Burlington.

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