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Rodeo Arena Upgrades Proposed


Rodeo lovers hope upgrades to the Stone County Rodeo Arena will draw big crowds and pay dividends here.

Heather Stevens, secretary-treasurer of the Stone County Saddle Club, says a competitive arena could bring a lot of new visitors to Stone County several times a year.

A county ordinance sponsored by Dist. 8 Justice of the Peace John Dawson Irvin was adopted by the county quorum court in February. It creates a line item in the county budget to receive donations to the county-owned arena.

Irvin has teamed up with his wife, Dist. 24 State Sen. Missy Irvin of Mountain View, who has created a 501(c)3 corporation called the “Invincible Fund” in memory of her late brother and rodeo-lover Vince Thomas.

Stevens said the immediate goal is to gather donations totaling $7,500, which would qualify the county for a matching grant in the same amount.

“If we had $15,000 we could get started. We need a concession stand with bathrooms,” Stevens said. “That’s what we need to get the Arkansas Cowboy Association and the Arkansas Rodeo Association to look at us.”

The ACA and ARA are the state’s biggest rodeo event organizers, Stevens said.
The arena floor also needs some grading and a soft-soil top dressing for barrel racing, she said.

“Spectators love that event,” Stevens noted.

Sen. Irvin said anyone who wants to donate may do so at Dr. John Dawson Irvin’s Baxter Family Clinic at 805 W. Main St.

As the arena now stands, it’s a big draw for spectators twice a year.

“We have huge rodeos during the fair and another with the folk festival,” she said.
Stevens says rodeos are trending sharply upward in recent years in almost every place where communities invest in facilities and events.

Bleachers in the Stone County arena on the fair grounds currently seat about 250 spectators. The bleachers need some planks replaced and a general firming up, she said.

“While we’re at it, I say we shoot for the sky and expand seating to 400,” Stevens said.

Sen. Irvin says additional matching funds are available. Her vision includes a covered arena. She looks forward to teaming up with Stevens and others in the saddle club.

“We need to think big on this project.” the senator said. “I think we’re ready for it.”

The Irvins’ daughter, Allyn, just completed a master’s degree in architectural construction and administration from the University of Florida. The senator said Allyn has agreed to donate in-kind services to the project.

Rodeo Arena, Irvin, Mountain View AR, Stone County Leader


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