Work has begun to replace the antiquated public address system at the Elbert County Fairgrounds with a new, advanced system.
According to Kyrei Zion, the Elbert County Fairgrounds event coordinator, the new bi-amplified system will provide clearer sound with capacity for increased volume, a much-needed improvement over the existing system, which has been repaired in a piecemeal fashion over the years.
Zion expects the new system to be installed in time for the Cowboy Up in Kiowa Rodeo, to be held at the fairgrounds the last weekend in June.
The fairground's new public address system is just one element in the first phase of a three-phase master plan to upgrade the fairgrounds through 2023.
Much of the phase-one work, which focuses primarily on the rodeo arena and surrounding earthworks, has already been completed. Construction of a new 700-seat covered grandstand and the installation of new bucking chutes was finished last year.
Phase two calls for infrastructure renovations that will facilitate vehicle and pedestrian access, in addition to providing ADA-compliant parking. New public restrooms and a pavilion are also part of the second phase.
Additional grandstand seating and an indoor arena will make up phase three.
County Manager Ed Ehmann says the improvements, like the new PA system, are designed to enhance existing events such as the Elbert County Fair as well as add the upgrades, which will make the venue attractive for additional users. According to Ehmann, the facility has already seen an increase in bookings since the project began.
In addition to the equestrian and agricultural events traditionally hosted by the fairgrounds, the renovations are expected to draw dog training and small animal shows, specialty trade and industry shows, and community events such as dances, senior functions and movie nights.
Zion is enthusiastic about the improvements to the fairgrounds. “It will be a huge factor in marketing the arena,” she said.
According to the master plan posted on the Elbert County website, the cost of all three phases of the plan is estimated to exceed $5.5 million over 12 years.
According to Ehmann, some county money is slated for the project, but the majority of the funds come from state grants, CDOT transportation grants and the Conservation Trust Fund.
The Conservation Trust is funded by the Colorado Lottery and distributes 40 percent of net proceeds from lottery ticket sales to eligible county and municipal projects for development and improvements of parks, recreation and open space.
The fairgrounds are also home to the Elbert County Extension Office and monthly meetings of Elbert County 4-H.