The Clark County Saddle Club is getting ready to saddle up and ride north.
“There is no Vancouver Rodeo this year,” said board member Don Hanley. That makes 2019 the first interruption in the annual festival of cowboy skill challenges and exhibitions, always held around the Fourth of July, since it began in 1970.
Hanley said the Saddle Club has fingers crossed about raising enough money, and getting construction happening quickly enough at its new property, to host a rodeo event in July 2020. That space is much larger than the previous site.
“Basically, the city moved in around us,” Hanley said. The Clark County Saddle Club’s longtime facility, 14 acres at 10505 N.E. 117th Ave., used to be out in the countryside, he said, but over the last few years the neighborhood has rapidly filled up with apartment buildings, single-family homes, businesses, new roads and traffic.
“About 300 (new neighbors) got free admission to the rodeo last year, because they can see it all out their second-floor windows,” Hanley said. Meanwhile, he added, new traffic patterns have made it daunting for local cowboys and cowgirls to drive their horse trailers to the site.
“It became obvious to us that it was getting impossible. We started looking a few years ago” for a new location, he said.
The good news, Hanley said, is that it was found and purchased over the past year. The new, 40-acre site at 11407 N.E. 174th Circle is only about four miles north of the previous location, near Meadow Glade and Brush Prairie.
“It’s huge and cool,” Hanley said, but it’s also completely undeveloped. “Forty acres of raw land,” upon which the Saddle Club means to build a state-of-the-art horse arena and an internal roadway. Roadway engineering is already underway now, Hanley said.
Between the purchase price and new construction, “It’ll end up being about a $3 million project,” Hanley said. The previous property was sold for $2.5 million, according to Clark County property records, and the new one purchased for about $767,000. The club has already sunk plenty of that cash into preliminary engineering and permitting, Hanley said, and it’s not certain right now how quickly construction on the project can proceed.
“We’ll just have a lot of fundraisers,” he said.
The Clark County Saddle Club has approximately 500 dues-paying members, Hanley said, and hosts routine weekly events like team roping and barrel racing. “We are still leasing the grounds back,” so those events have continued, he said, but at some point all that will stop.
In recent years the four-day Vancouver Rodeo has drawn as many as 12,000 spectators and 500 participants, he said.
On the Web: clarkcountysaddleclub.com/