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Ironton gets new horse arena

Nov. 29, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

IRONTON -- The Lawrence County Horsemen's Association is building a new home in Lawrence County and hopes to double or triple the number of events it holds next year. The new horse arena is being built at Commerce Drive in Ironton, across the street from the Ohio Department of Transportation's Lawrence County garage.

"We've been holding shows at the Ohio University Horse Park in Franklin Furnace for the past few years," said Flint Adkins, chairman of the association's board. "We wanted a location in Lawrence County. We wanted to control our fate. It will bring business to the city."

The association currently hosts about five events per year, with 150 entrants and 300 to 400 spectators.

"We'd like to have 10 to 15 events a year," Adkins said. "We want to expand our shows. We have barrel races and events with gaited horses. We worked with the city and the Ironton Port Authority. They're leasing 11 acres to us. We'll have plenty of parking. We're trying to get some bleachers."

"We'll also have 4-H shows," Adkins said. "Our club is based around youth. We're all about youth. They're our future."

Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship said the city has been working with the Lawrence County Horseman's Association on the project for about a year.

"It's a different activity," Blankenship said. "I hope they're successful. I hope they can bring new business in to Ironton."

The group is spending about $100,000 to build the outdoor show arena, Adkins said. The group has about 60 members. The first event planned at the arena is set for next April, he said. "We're also looking at putting in a covered arena," he said. "That will cost about $130,000. It will take a few years to get that done."

"The mayor supports us," Adkins said. "We're seeking grants and we're selling signs that will line the arena." A 4-by-8-foot sign will cost $200, he said. "We have a lot of local support," he said. "It's been wonderful."