LUMBERTON — The kickoff of the North Carolina’s Horse Council Foundation’s project to name stalls needed at the N.C. Southeastern Agricultural Center to provide for successful horse shows collected more than $12,000 in donations on Monday.
The goal of the project is to find 100 donors willing to put up $1,000 each to name 100 stalls, according to Sue Gray, the N.C Horse Council’s executive director. The total cost of the project could reach $650,000.
“We are hoping to raise $200,000 of that amount privately and the remainder we hope to achieve through grants,” Gray said.
About 50 people showed up at Monday’s fund-raising kickoff held at the Golden Corral in Lumberton. There are sponsorship opportunities ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. For information on how to become a sponsor, call Cecil Jackson at 910-740-0262 or the council at 919-854-1990.
Dalton Stocks, franchise owner of the restaurant, is a strong supporter of the project.
“Our Southeastern Agricultural Center is having a very positive impact on the city of Lumberton and the entire county’s economy,” he said. “…The stalls will complete the Ag Center’s pavilion and make it a tier one arena, which will mean more events, larger crowds, more jobs and for more people to see just what the city of Lumberton and Robeson County have to offer.”
Supporters say the new pavilion, which is operated at the center by the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, needs enhancements to compete with similar facilities. They include air conditioning, portable flooring, a scoreboard and a sound system.
The plans also call for a 100-stall horse barn, which the department estimates would cost between $550,000 and $650,000. The stalls are needed for people who bring their horses from long distances.
Ron Moore, the assistant director of facility operations, marketing division for the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said that state Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler is “100 percent” in support of getting the stalls built. He added, however, that the challenge is finding the financial resources to carry out the project.
“It will take private and public partnerships for us to get where we want to be,” he said. “It will take support from the entire community to keep this project moving forward.”
Gray told those at Monday’s event that the equine industry can have an enormous boost on Robeson County’s economy. She said that agri-tourism is rising and Lumberton is in a situation to benefit.
Citing a recent survey of 602 visitors to equine events in North Carolina, Gray said that 22 states were represented with nearly three-quarters of them from North Carolina. About half said they travel between 101 and 500 miles to attend an event and about half lodge locally in hotels or motels. The total average spending by an adult visitor was $317.61, she said.
Gray said that the N.C.. Horse Council is sponsoring“Cowboy Up” at the Southeastern Agricultural Center on Sept. 28 through Sept. 30 to raise to build the stalls.
It is estimated that the three-day show will have an estimated $1 million impact on the local economy.
Reach staff writer Bob Shiles at 910-272-6117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.