Ground broken for events center

Sen. Clint Harden, R-Clovis, takes part in a calf-roping contest during the groundbreaking for the Special Events Center Saturday at Curry County Fairgrounds. Harden did rope the mechanical calf for a score. (Staff photo: Tony Bullocks)

By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer

Elected officials from the state and county gathered Saturday at the Curry County Fairgrounds to break ground on the long-awaited Special Events Center.

The $6 million multi-purpose facility will be built on a parcel of land located on the west side of the fairgrounds. Once completed, the enclosed, metal structure will seat up to 6,500 people for a variety of events, including rodeos and concerts. Officials estimate the construction will be completed within a year after the bids open in three months.

As the denim- and boot-clad attendees huddled against the chilly wind, Curry County Manager Dick Smith began the ceremony by lauding the previous night’s rainfall and temperature drop.

“I’d like to thank Mother Nature for the reminder that Curry County needed a covered events center,” Smith said.

Smith also praised the visionaries as the reason the Special Events Center is finally taking shape.

“I was once told if you’re behind the horse your view never changes,” Smith said, “so I am saluting the daydreamers for sitting around and dreaming of this events center.”

The county manager concluded his speech by recognizing Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, for his efforts in “lassoing” funds for the project.

The accolades continued as Sen. Clint Hardin, R-Clovis, thanked the people who “ride and rope.”

“This event center will let us share in the rodeo culture for a lot of years,” Hardin said.

Rep. Anna Crook, R-Clovis, recalled a group of Curry County residents who approached her 12 years ago about building a covered events center in Curry County.

“Rodeo is dear to my heart,” Crook said, “and through hard work we are seeing a day of fruition.”

The Western-themed ceremony concluded with the state representatives and senators participating in a simulated calf-roping on a mechanical horse.

Clovis resident Gloria Wicker, who played an integral part in appropriating funds for the project, summed up the eventful morning.

“This is just wonderful,” she said, “and it has been a long time coming.”