Blue jeans and boots will have a new place to rest this year thanks to a community wide effort spearheaded by the Superior Lion’s Club.
After 45 years of wear and tear, a project that adds 200 more seats and replaces worn-out seating and infrastructure at the Mineral County Rodeo arena is nearing completion.
Crews from local builder MIH Construction this week were adding the last of the new aluminum seats to the arena, which will now seat 2,000 rodeo-goers as part of the annual Mineral County Fair.
The three-day fair, which features live music, a wide variety of food choices and games and rides for the kids is scheduled for Aug. 6-8 this summer.
Lion’s Club president Steve Temple said an initial grant of $64,388 from the Montana Department of Tourism got the project, dubbed the Rodeo Bleacher Remodel, going last year. It has since received the support of Mineral County, which owns the grounds and serves as a guarantor of funds involved in the project.
Total cost of the project, which began with the addition of the 200 seats in the “end zone” areas of the arena, grew when it was discovered much of the timber structure supporting the existing seating would also have to be replaced due to age and deterioration. The total price tag now stands at $130,000, Temple said.
“In the spring of this year, the County awarded a project contract for $103,675 and off we went to begin reconstruction of the bleachers,” Temple said. “When it was discovered many of the underlying timbers needed replacing the initial thought was the Lion’s Club would do much of that work, but the contractor stepped in and said it was something that needed to be done professionally given safety and load bearing issues.”
The three-day fair and rodeo is largely regarded as the main fund-raising event for many community organizations and businesses, Temple said.
“There are a lot of people who rely on the fair and rodeo each year to help them raise funds through ventures like food booths and the like,” he added.
In fact, the fair grounds themselves depend heavily on the annual event, which is usually held the first full weekend of August. The rodeo is a Montana Rodeo Association sanctioned event and draws top cowboys and cowgirls from throughout the region.
This year the various groups involved are hoping to raise $15,000 to go toward the price of the renovations, without which the rodeo may have not been able to be held this year.
Mineral County Commissioner Roman Zylawy said the support provided by the Lions Club and donations from the community are vital in keeping the summer tradition going.
“I admire the drive and effort of the Lions to tackle this major remodel work and encourage the support of the community,” Zylawy said.
Temple, who also serves as the Fire Chief for the Superior Volunteer Fire Department, said the Mineral County Fair Board has been a major factor in the success of the remodel project.
“This wouldn’t be do-able without the Fair Board’s support,” Temple said. “This is a big thing for our community each summer and we get good volunteer support. It’s become a really good rodeo and fair that is fun for a lot of people.”