HERMISTON — When Farm-City Pro Rodeo announcer Randy Corley and his wife Michelle stopped by Hermiston in June to check out the new rodeo grounds, they were both surprised at what they saw. And what they didn’t see.
“There was no grass or anything here June 2, I can tell you that,” Corley said during media night festivities on Tuesday. “There were studs on the Chute 8 (building), no walls, we had concrete poured for seats but no bleachers, no fences were in.”
However as Corley and his wife departed the rodeo grounds more than two months ago, he had no doubt that the Farm-City board would be able to work its magic and churn out the state-of-the-art facility they set out to build. When he rolled back into Hermiston this week, he was not disappointed.
“I’m not just sitting here bragging on this committee because I’m here,” he said. “I bragged when I drove out of here when most people would have thought it would be impossible to have this ready to go, and they did it. They got down, rolled their sleeves up and said ‘we’re going to have it’ and they did have it.”
Construction and excavation of the arena got underway in October, but work was slowed by the abnormally cold and snowy winter for the Hermiston area. It led to a lot of overtime and tireless work for the past few months by the rodeo board and numerous volunteers that helped put the finishing touches on the arena, which opened its doors for business Wednesday evening.
Board member David Bothum said prior to the first performance on Wednesday that seeing the arena finished and people in the stands allowed for a short sigh of relief.
“We knew it would happen no matter what,” he said. “We all knew we’d do whatever it took one way or another to get it done, but it was a little stressful. It’s been a complete whirlwind for about four months so this is good to finally see it finished.”
And the cowboys and cowgirls were certainly appreciative of the work put in and the new facilities that they have to work with. A few praised aspects of the facility, including wider runs for the timed events, a larger warm-up area and even the expanded parking area that made it easy to navigate for the competitors. Two-time steer wrestling world champion Hunter Cure was one of those with nothing but positive things to say after his ride Wednesday night.
“There’s only one grand opening to anything,” he said. “And with all the amount of man hours and all the people working up to the last minute today to get this ready, you couldn’t ask for anything better than you have here. Job well done to everybody.”
Contact Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839. Follow him on Twitter @ByEricSinger.