New Richland Co. 4-H Buildings To Offer Fun Year Round

The new Richland County 4-H buildings are providing more than just a place for 4-H members, people from around the community have been able to take advantage of the new facilities. 

“Through the upgrading of the fairground’s facilities portfolio, Richland County can continue providing Sidney and the region with facilities that have diverse utilization. It opens so many doors of possibilities here at the fairgrounds and that's what is exciting,” said Richland County Fairgrounds Manager Pam Shelmidine.

The new complex includes three separate barns: a horse barn and stalls, a swine, sheep, and goat barn and a cattle barn. There is also a new show area with expanded grandstands.

The new buildings are located where the old agriculture building once stood, to the east and north of the 4-H food booth. The exhibits and booths that were in the old agriculture building are now in the commercial building.

Richland County Extension Agent Josie Evenson explained that the Richland County 4-H program has needed this expansion for many years. "We outgrew the barn and needed new space. Our 4-H program is one of the largest in the state as far as the population; we have 243 kids enrolled, which is roughly 11% of the school population in Richland County.” said Evenson.

As the buildings continued to age, they became unsafe with some structural issues, which caused safety concerns.  

The process for deciding what buildings should be constructed, involved a panel of 12 people including Richland County officials fair board members and 4-H leaders. They spent a full year evaluating what was needed with two years of study. They used projected growth data, input from 4-H participants and fair board members to assess what was needed.

When the buildings were constructed, the planning committee thought about how they could be used for 365 days of the year, not just 4 days for the fair.

“We thought long and hard about what was needed, meeting over 30 times to discuss different things,” explained Evenson. 

The buildings were finished in July 2021 and attracted several people to the facilities during the 2021 fair. 

“The shows were better attended, and more people were able to walk through the barns and see the animals. Overall, using them this past year was a great experience for not just 4-H but the entire community,” added Evenson.

There are many different ways the new complex can be used in the off-fair season.

“The cattle barn with its dirt floor can be used for livestock shows or sales, auctions, cornhole tournaments or even rustic weddings! The building used for sheep and swine during the fair has endless possibilities from indoor dances to livestock shows to a marching band practice-maybe even a recreational vehicle or pool and spa show. The curtain sides feature of the building provide lots of ventilation so summer events can be out of the sun, but still feel like you are outdoors. Our new 600-seat grandstand with a grass arena is great for outdoor weddings, small concerts, plays, and livestock shows. Our 29-stall horse hotel is a perfect place for someone transporting horses across long distances to give the horses a rest in a safe place. Easy access for trailers, convenient off-loading and loading area to the stalls,” explained Shelmidine.

The Richland County 4-H is very appreciative of the new space. This year the 4-H kids will be taking full advantage of the new facilities. There will be 105 market steer projects, which is the largest county fair in Montana as far as steer numbers. 

Shelmidine said, “It is wonderful to have these facilities! We are so happy to be able to offer them to the public for their use - I can't wait to see what people come up with to do out here! “


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