When it’s all finished, it will be the largest covered horse arena in Kitsap County. Maybe even throughout the Kitsap Peninsula.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that it won’t be ready for this year’s fair. And because of that, the 4-H equestrians hosted their own show in late July.
The new Harry & Jaynne Boand Arena came about because the old arena was in disrepair. That show area wasn’t covered and there were questions about its safety.
So a local volunteer took it upon himself to find the money to build a new, larger, covered show arena which can be used for horses and other events.
“I really wanted a covered arena for these kids,” said Ron Gascoyne Sr. “I have grandkids who are in 4-H and they really needed a good, steel structure.”
Gascoyne went looking for the money to build a new arena. He sought out grant money from foundations. And he happened on to some right in his own backyard.
Gascoyne has a home business of boarding horses. One of his boarders, Nicole Boand, heard about his campaign for a new arena and connected him to her family foundation, the Boand Foundation in California.
“Through that foundation we were able to get a $500,000 grant,” Gascoyne said. “That’s why the arena is named in honor of Nicole’s parents, Harry and Jaynne Boand.”
The funding meant that a new arena would be built. But first he had to set a budget.
“We had to find a contractor that would work with us,” he said. “And we needed to know, down to the penny, what everything would cost. There could be no cost overruns.”
With the help of the Kitsap Community Foundation, Gascoyne was named the project manager. Because the Boand Foundation gives grants only to nonprofits, the foundation acted as the overseeing organization. Gascoyne found companies that were willing to work with him and at a price they could afford.
Olympia Steel Buildings put together the concept. Dennis McNeal was selected as the contractor. And various companies came on board to help at a discounted price or for free. They included MAPS Engineers, Viking Fence Co., Lowe’s, Home Depot and Hard Rock concrete. Even the signs for the arena were donated. And Puget Sound Energy gave a grant for new LED lighting.
Within the past two years, the arena has taken shape. One of the things that delayed it being finished is that the the ground where it sits had to be leveled.
“Before, it looked level,” Gascoyne said. “But once we got in there, we found that was an optical illusion.”
So the north side had to have concrete lifts poured and sand also had to be brought in. The actual surface of the arena is being made from dirt that has been excavated from the area where Harrison Medical Center is expanding.
“All the (dirt) has to be filtered to make sure it’s smooth,” he said. “It’s quite a process.”
The steel structure is 260 feet long by 130 feet wide. The interior usable space is a bit narrower at 120 feet. Bleachers will be set up outside of the covered arena on the west side for horse shows. There’s also a new announcers booth.
“Everything old had to go,” Gascoyne said. “It was all wood and that didn’t meet county regulations.”
Permitting for the arena took about a year, but Gascoyne said “everyone at the county and with the parks department worked hard on our behalf.”
Kitsap County owns the land where the fairgrounds is, and the county parks and recreation department manages it. It was in 2012 when a 4-Her and her horse allegedly were injured when they stepped into a sink hole during an event at the old show arena. A lawsuit was filled but later dismissed. But that prompted discussion about a new arena.
At the new arena, drainage has been developed that will keep the arena dry. And because it is such a large space, supporters want to rent it out.
“We think it can be used for cattle shows, RV shows, archery competitions, even outdoor baseball, football and soccer practices and events,” said Cassie O’Hara, livestock director for the Kitsap County Fair. “The opportunities are limitless.”
And it’s from those funds and other county money that the arena will be maintained, she said. “The county has such great facilities here at the fairgrounds and this will only ad to that.”
A former 4-Her himself, Gascoyne runs the miniature pony show at the fair. He was with Target stores from 1989 to when he retired in 2002. His work for Target is what brought him to Kitsap County.
“I’ve got 13 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren,” he said. “Every one of them is involved with horses. Now I know they’ll never have to worry about having a nice arena for at least the next 100 years.”
O’Hara said that without volunteers like Gascoyne, things like the arena wouldn’t happen.
“He had a dream,” she said. “He had a vision and he made it happen. He’s given the entire Kitsap Peninsula a gift.”