The vision and development of the Ag Innovation Event Center
A few farmers and ranchers sat at the Yuma County Fair a few years ago discussing the fair and what could happen if they really made some improvements to the facilities. What if we improved this? What if we improved that? If we built this, I wonder if we could build that? If we could build that, then we could host this event and that event… Wow, what if…
That’s how it all started one sunny August day at the Yuma County Fairgrounds in Yuma, Colo. Kenny Rogers and Nicole Frank started asking questions and brainstorming how they could improve the facilities at the Yuma County Fair to attract more and more people to different events. The next year David Blach, Gary Hoffner and Jaden Blach joined in the conversations. Then they started asking their friends, “Hey what do you think about this concept for some improved facilities?” Then they decided to form a committee of interested individuals to explore the options further. They had several meetings and conversations with stakeholders across the county, region, state and tri-state area brainstorming ideas.
Eventually, they formed a board with the name — High Plains Event Center that would later do business as the Ag Innovation Event Center. The members of the board included David Blach, president, Kenny Rogers, vice president, Gary Hoffner, treasurer, Nicole Frank, secretary, Curt Fix, director and Michelle Smith, director. They reached out to several more associates from the business world to form a business committee which included: Andrea Anderson, David Blach, Chris Blecha, Reece Bowman, Bob Carpio, Curt Fix, Nicole Frank, Rob Harding, Kim Langley, Dan Seedorf and Michelle Smith. “These members contributed to a vision that was later used to build a master plan,” David Blach said.
They had more friends that were interested in ag innovation and improvement and formed a general committee made up of Jaden Blach, Duane Brown, Jed Gleghorn, Daniel Gonzales, Kim Langley, Joel Lemons, Maggie Metzler, JoLynn Midcap, Ross Morris, Chad Richards, Sonya Shaw, Dwain Weinrich and a few others who have contributed. These individuals helped with the development of the project. They provided input and feedback on the direction of the project.
They worked to develop some ideas and concepts for a multi-purpose facility and event center that could attract regional events from the tri-state area and beyond. They worked with the Colorado Center for Community Development to build a Yuma County Fairgrounds Master Plan. The in-depth plan evaluated a variety of data and current structures in Yuma County and surrounding counties. Together through a variety of collaboration, they built a master plan with a variety of options. This master plan was presented and reviewed with them in 2017.
Additionally in 2017, the committees started working on some fundraising opportunities to go along with some grant writing opportunities. David Blach reached out to Dave Vondy, All-American Consulting, about some fundraising ideas and the committee implemented some ideas to launch their November 2017 fundraiser. Blach and Vondy were able to stay in contact through the winter and spring of 2018 and with the success of the fall 2017 fundraiser the group was able to hire Tammy Fehringer as their grant writer. Additionally, the event center group was able to negotiate a deal with Vondy and All-American Consulting to help move the project forward.
On June 26, 2017, the Ag Innovation Group of David Blach, Kenny Rogers, Michelle Smith, Jed Gleghorn and Dave Vondy were able to meet at the Yuma County Fairgrounds to brainstorm some ideas for a potential fundraiser at the 2018 Yuma County Fair. After exploring a few options Jed Gleghorn noted that there was somewhat of a “window of opportunity” between the PRCA Rodeo and the evening live entertainment acts of Lonestar & Caitlyn Ochsner. They discussed a variety of options and scenarios around the Bank of Colorado tent that was already being set up for the rodeo contestants and fans north of the rodeo grounds.
Together they developed a plan to present to the Yuma County Commissioners, fair board and Dan Seedorf to fill a need at the fair and provide some live entertainment as well as a live and silent auction for the fair attendees. Since then they have developed a variety of pieces around the Ag Innovation Event Center to take it to the next level. “We know that timing is crucial, and we really need to build some momentum for the Ag Innovation Event Center. Our work with Dave Vondy, All-American Consulting and our committees has really allowed us to build on the momentum. I am excited to see the development and progress made so far” said David Blach, Ag Innovation president.
“Dave Vondy and the Ag Innovation Committees have rallied to put together a fundraising event in a short amount of time. These efforts can take our project to the next level and provide funding for upcoming tasks. It has been a team effort and we are excited to see all the contributions and auction items donated,” said Kenny Rogers, vice president. “We are getting donations from around the county and as far away as Texas. Kerry Weed, the former Yuma County Rodeo chairman, previously from Wray, Colo., has even contributed to the fundraiser with his custom cowboy carry knife. More donations are coming in daily. It’s going to be a really fun event Aug. 7, 2018. We look forward to seeing everyone.” Rogers said.
Individuals associated with the Ag Innovation Event Center have been busy collecting art pieces, memorabilia, tickets, vacation packages, golf packages, hunting packages, farm services and a variety of live and silent auction items. “It’s amazing what can happen when communities rally together for a great cause. The donations have been great and we are looking forward to a fun event,” said Gary Hoffner, treasurer. “Those interested in donating to the event or auction can reach out to anyone associated with the Ag Innovation Event Center,” said Gary Hoffner.
“There are a variety of ways for people to get involved,” said Nichole Frank, secretary. “People can check out our Ag Innovation Event Center of Northeastern Colorado Facebook page for updates. Please check it out and like our page,” said Michelle Smith, director. “This is a great event and project for the county and the tri-state area,” said Curt Fix, director.
Make your plans to attend the Ag Innovation Event Center Festivities Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018, at the Yuma County Fair. Look for the big tent north of the rodeo grounds. Admission is free and it will be a great time to celebrate the summer and visit with family and friends. Proceeds from the Ag Innovation Event Center Auction will go towards the next steps in the project. Refreshments and light snacks will be provided from 3 to 5:30 p.m. The In The Groove Band will provide live entertainment prior and after the auction as time allows.
“As we apply for more and more local, regional, state and national grants, it’s important to be able to show local and regional support for a facility of this size that could be used by so many groups. The fundraising events are a great way for communities to come out and show this support that we can document in the grants. It’s also an opportunity for stakeholders to interact with board and committee members to brainstorm ideas for the development of the Ag Innovation Event Center in Yuma County. Thanks for all your support on behalf of all us associated with the project,” Blach said.
Wow, what if we could work together to pull off this amazing feat… What if… ❖
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From June through September, John Etchart spends most of the day driving a tractor through hayfields below the mountains near Meeker in northwestern Colorado.