Major improvements on hold

<p>Two years ago, FCPR made major improvements to the bucking chutes and announcer’s booth. With an impending move ahead, however, more major improvements are being put on hold.</p>

As the hourglass runs out on the time the Farm-City Pro Rodeo center-stages at the current Umatilla County Fairgrounds, there won't be notable changes to the venue.

According to FCPR Board of Directors member Darrel Sallee, the new fairgrounds, which will be located near Hermiston's airport, complete with an events center, will most likely be ready to host the Farm-City Pro Rodeo in 2013.

For now, the current grounds will not see significant improvements, mainly to save on money. After all, anything installed now will be taken down in the next couple years.

“The major, big projects will be put on the back burner,” Sallee said.

The most recent changes occurred three years ago when the Board had chutes, gates and similar structures rebuilt. The project costed approximately $130,000, according to Sallee. The work will be transferred to the new fairgrounds when the move is made.

“It's not like it's wasted material,” Sallee said.

Sallee said the the new site is about 70 percent funded, and  the Board is thankful for sponsors, state dollars, agreements with schools, grants and foundations, all of which have helped the process.

Right now, Sallee said he thinks ground will be broken next spring.

It just so happens next year will be the rodeo's 25th anniversary, and some rumor has swirled the new fairgrounds could be ready in time.

“In a perfect world, it could happen,” Sallee said.

But it's highly unlikely, he said. It would take an extreme effort to speed up the process, and corners would have to be cut. Speaking for the Board, Sallee said they want to get things “right,” rather than attempt to race through it.

“We have to take all our friends with us,” Sallee said, referring to the partnerships, sponsors and supporters that have to be on board with the timing of the move.

Although thought of the new grounds being finished, complete with the event center, may be enticing, the focus for the Board is getting this year's FCPR off, which will run Aug. 10-13. Workers and volunteers have been working tirelessly for most of the year in preparation for 2011's rodeo.

“Work started when the last one ended,” Sallee said. “Getting this off is our main focus.”

The goal was to make the current as nice as possible with minimal cost.

“We wanted to clean it up, make it look good,” Board of Directors member David Bothum said at the volunteer dinner.

Note: Jack Daniel's is the newest large sponsor for the FCPR, and marks the first year a distilled drink has sponsored the event.

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