By Conrad Dudderar
A livestock roping competition will be the debut event this weekend at the new Canadian County Expo & Event Center.
The “Rope the Rockies” Oklahoma Championships will be July 2-4 at Canadian County’s newly built $15.2 million fairgrounds’ complex, 3001 Jensen Road east of El Reno.
Presented by Jeff Smith Productions, this event is a United States Team Roping Championships (USTRC)-national finals qualifier. The competition previously was held at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie.
“Our fairgrounds is finishing up construction,” District 2 Canadian County Commissioner Dave Anderson said this week. “We have a big event scheduled for this weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“We’re supposed to have a lot of new faces and a lot of vehicle traffic coming through town. So, I’m excited to see this beginning to come to fruition.”
Canadian County has taken occupancy of the Canadian County Expo & Event Center at Jensen and Alfadale roads – just south of Interstate 40.
The first phase of the project features a 19,000 square foot event center, 46,000 square foot indoor arena and 19,000 square foot open-air pavilion, along with some 15,000 square feet of office space.
Nathan Smith, the center’s director and marketing manager, has booked various programs at the new site, including livestock competitions, gun shows, wrestling events, trade shows, and more.
The Canadian County Expo & Event Center will host the 67th annual Canadian County Free Fair Aug. 23-28. Kelly Beck, Brad Tipton and other fair board members are firming up plans for this year’s county fair.
Lingo Construction has overseen construction of the $15.2 million expo center project, funded through Canadian County use tax revenues.
With crowds arriving for this weekend’s team roping competition at the new facilities, Canadian County Commission Chairman Jack Stewart cited the need to improve the primary road leading to the property.
“We have to get something done fast,” said Stewart, the District 3 commissioner. “The roads in the area are not in pretty bad shape.”
Stewart recently met with officials from the City of El Reno, which owns Jensen Road east of Highway 81.
“They indicated their intent is to de-annex the Jensen Road portion, at least over the Radio Road,” he reported. “We will then have the legal ability to go in there and repair the road.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to improve it to its ‘final degree’ this summer, but we can get started. … We’re going to get there with everything, it’s just that it will be done in stages.”
Canadian County owns Alfadale Road on the east side of the new expo center property.