Construction begins on new rodeo grounds, equestrian park in Hurricane

In this file photo, the 2021 Hurricane Peach Days Rodeo Queen Shalyce Jessop and 1st attendant Mary Rowley display their riding skills at the Washington County Fair. The next Peach Days Rodeo will be held at the new rodeo grounds being constructed in Hurricane, Utah, April 13, 2021 | Photo by Megan Webber, St. George News

Hurricane —The city is getting ready to cowboy up in a big way. 

The Peach Days Rodeo will soon be held at new rodeo grounds – with double the crowd capacity – being constructed southeast of the airport.   Hurricane, Utah, August  2013 | Photo by Jeremy Crawford, St. George News

Construction has begun on the Hurricane Equestrian Park and Arena, following an Oct. 20 groundbreaking ceremony. City officials say the ambitious project will be done in April, in time for the next Peach Days festivities and associated rodeo. 

Located on 40 acres southeast of the airport, the new venue will include rodeo grounds with 2,000 seats, double the capacity of the American Legion Rodeo Arena currently in use. 

Plans for the park, drawn up by Jackson Land Design and Civil Science Engineering, also include an adjacent park with open grassy areas, a playground, basketball court, picnicking spots and looped walking trails. A dedicated parking lot will allow access to a popular local hiking spot, Molly’s Nipple.  

The city used to lease the site from the Bureau of Land Management as a grazing area for local livestock. In 2010, the BLM gave the land – which Parks Superintendent Darren Barney said includes 5-10 acres of unusable hillside – to the city of Hurricane. 

The new rodeo grounds are a significant upgrade. They’ll feature a 225-by-150-foot equestrian riding ring with bleacher seating, an announcer’s booth and snack shack. The venue will be illuminated by LED lights, designed to minimize light spillage in deference to neighbors and the night sky.

Councilmember Nanette Billings said that as with the current rodeo grounds, the community will be able to ride horses there when it’s not being used for events like Peach Days.

The cost of the project is estimated at $1.9 million, down from an initial $5 million floated in December 2018. The city whittled away some of the price tag by having Hurricane city workers take on some of the prep and construction. 

Funding for the Hurricane Equestrian Park and Arena has come largely from impact fees paid by developers building in the fast-growing city as well as from the city parks budget. 

Kelby Iverson and his wife Kathie Iverson, owners of Western Legacy Farm and Ranch in Hurricane, serve as chairs for the Peach Days committee. 

Competing in rodeos is a family tradition, so the couple has helped organize Hurricane’s most well-known community event for 17 years. 

“We’ve kind of outgrown it,” Kelby Iverson said of the “wore-out and run-down” American Legion Rodeo Arena. “We get more and more people every year. It was standing room only this last time.”

He said people have been talking about building new rodeo grounds for years. With the grading done, a sewer/septic system installed and J and J Construction starting work, it’s beginning to look like the dream will become a reality. 

“If they can get it done by next Peach Days, we’ll be excited,” he said. 

The old rodeo ground at 600 N. 200 West will be torn down to make room for more baseball and softball fields, a skate park and a pump track for cyclists. With Hurricane’s population steadily growing, the city desperately needs these additional sports facilities, Billings said. 

Kelby Iverson said the new equestrian park is a great fit for the area, considering its proximity to Hurricane’s agricultural zone. He said his only worry is the city might get too excited about the possibilities for new, state-of-the-art rodeo grounds. The American Legion rodeo ring has always been easily accessible for use by the public, with the Peach Days rodeo being just about the only event held there.

“Anyone can go ride a horse and use it. One thing citizens are concerned about is that it’s going to become too commercialized,” he said. “The city’s going to want to ride that balance, making sure they aren’t booking (the rodeo grounds) every weekend with some event.”

Ed. Note: A previous version of this story included an image representing a rendering of what the park will look like. It has been removed. The story has also been updated to include Civil Science Engineering as a co-designer of the park.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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