By Conrad Dudderar
Canadian County will take occupancy in June of the $15.2 million Canadian County Expo & Event Center.
And it won’t take long before the county’s new multi-purpose fairgrounds’ complex will be abuzz with activity.
Construction is moving closer to completion on the site at Jensen and Alfadale roads – just south of Interstate 40 and east of El Reno.
“I’m grateful we’re walking towards this caliber of a facility,” said Nathan Smith, the director and marketing manager of the Canadian County Expo & Event Center. “There’s anticipation and excitement from all groups involved.”
“We have booked the following: Dog shows, wrestling events, horse shows, roping events, gun shows, and trade shows,” Smith reported.
These events will start to occur during the first weekend in July and continue into 2022.
“Other types of events are currently in the process of solidifying bookings with us as well,” Smith said.
“We promote the facility with direct response marketing. That includes social media, email campaigns and cold calls to the ones who are directly responsible inside organizations for venue selection.”
For the first time in more than 50 years, Canadian County’s free fair will be at a new location. Indeed, the 67th annual county fair will be Aug. 23-28 at the new expo and event center.
Smith is “doing exactly what we hired him for” in June 2019 when Canadian County Commissioners chose him for the director/marketing manager position, Commission Chairman Jack Stewart said.
IT’S ALL ABOUT LOCATION
Smith is not surprised by the response of those entities interested in using the centrally located Canadian County Expo & Event Center.
“The Canadian County Commissioners – with the support of Canadian County and those directly involved in the process – have built something that answers the need for customers who are deciding where to go with their events,” Smith said. “We’ve got a good product with a great location.”
The project’s first phase features a 19,000 square foot event center, 46,000 square foot indoor arena and 19,000 square foot open-air pavilion, along with around 15,000 square feet of office space.
“It is a large, open and modular space with a climate-controlled option,” Smith explained. “Our flexibility and multiple areas of rental allows us to serve livestock, trade shows, graduations, concerts or even a monster truck event.”
With 50 acres of property on the site, there is plenty of space for outdoor activities like concerts – plus room for future growth.
The county expo center’s director and marketing manager believes the potential is limited only by one’s imagination.
“Starting off on the right foot is a great place to begin,” Smith said. “We’re fortunate Canadian County has grown into the destination it is.
“As we move forward, we’ll continue to build on that coat tail as we give more and more tourism dollars a reason to land in our back yard.”
Canadian is the fastest-growing county in Oklahoma, with an estimated population of more than 150,000 – doubling over the past 30 years.
The site of the future Canadian County Expo & Event Center is in an area primed for growth, county officials said.
Canadian County in 2019 purchased the property for $1.25 million from the Jensen family. The county has an option to purchase another 50 acres if needed for further development.
“I hope to see a variety of events choose us, and I hope our restaurant, hotel and shop owners feel the positive effects more and more,” Smith said.
“In the years to come, I hope to always see us grow the need and use of our facility along with its accommodations.”