LUMBERTON — Although the official grand-opening ceremony for the long-awaited multi-purpose pavilion at the N.C. Southeastern Agricultural Center/Farmers Market isn’t until Tuesday, there will be plenty of action at the site during the coming weekend.
Activities kick off Friday when the Borderbelt Horseman’s Association sponsors an open house at the 50,000-square-foot pre-engineered steel structure from 3 to 6 p.m. Free tours and refreshments will be available.
“We’re inviting everybody to come out and see the pavilion,” said Cecil Jackson, the association’s vice president. “We’re tickled to death with it. We’re proud to have it.”
Jackson said he personally has been working for 21 years to bring to Robeson County a facility where major equestrian and livestock activities can be showcased. The pavilion has been constructed so that other kinds of events can be held there, and already bookings include family reunions and at least one wedding.
On Friday, beginning at 6 p.m., the first equestrian event in the new building will be held. Jackson said that the Borderbelt Horseman’s Association’s open barrel horse show will include about 150 horses.
Jackson said that a general open horse show, sponsored by the Borderbelt Horseman’s Association, will be held on Saturday beginning at 9 a.m.
‘The show will include a couple hundred horses and probably last until about 9 p.m.,” Jackson said.
Being able to provide for major equestrian events will be a tremendous economic boost for the local economy, according to Jackson.
“A facility like this in Williamston brought in about $1,143,000 in just three days,” he said.
On Tuesday, Steve Troxler, commissioner of the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, will be present for the pavilion’s grand opening ceremony. The ceremony begins at 11 a.m.
The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs has overseen construction of the facility, which is part of the state-owned agricultural center and farmers market. The need for an arena to hold horse shows and other livestock events had been floated for years as a way to make the agricultural complex self-supporting.
The pavilion, which provides seating for 1,000, has a dirt floor to allow for equestrian and other livestock events. A covering, to eventually be replaced by a permanent portable floor system, can be placed over the dirt to allow for other uses, such as concerts, corporate events, trade shows, family reunions, high school proms and weddings.
Reach staff writer Bob Shiles at 910-272-6117 or firstname.lastname@example.org