ROCK SPRINGS — In case you haven’t noticed, changes both big and small are going on at the Sweetwater County Events Complex these days.
Renovations are happening all over the complex in an effort to make facilities more accessible and inviting to community groups and visitors from outside the county.
According to Marketing and Events Manager Kandi Pendleton, the front of the complex facing Yellowstone has never been changed. One of the bigger projects being looked at by the fair board and complex management is giving the building a fresh new look.
“All of these buildings on the grounds were built in 1976 and 1977,” Pendleton said. “Look at the sign on the top of the (main) building that says ‘Sweetwater County Fairgrounds.’ I mean, you can’t get more dated than that.”
Expanding the Main Hall
Part of the proposed expansion includes building out the front portion of the main hall about 40-feet to include a lobby with windows and entrance accessibility on both sides.
“There would be an actual lobby with a coat check, ticket area and you’d be able to get dropped off at the door and wait in the lobby instead of outside in the elements,” Pendleton added. “Right now if you’re collecting tickets for say Cowboys Against Cancer or some other event, you have this little 12-foot space to stand and wait in.”
Another proposed project would see a 50-foot expansion off the back side of the main hall. While funding for both expansion projects has not been secured at this time, Pendleton said her staff is working on several options that could expedite the process.
Last year the county gave the complex $832,000 for capital improvements, and three of the projects earmarked for those funds involve creating “breakout rooms” in the main hall. The rooms are currently under construction on the north side of the building, and Pendleton said this will create great opportunities for small events.
“Birthday parties, small receptions, you can fit a couple hundred people in here,” she said. “But the biggest demand we get from our large events is the need for breakout rooms. They’ll do a lot of big events in the main hall, but then need to break out into smaller spaces for seminars and things like that.”
The spaces, which used to have rollup garage-style doors, now have store front access, a coffee bar, and numerous locations around the room for television or audio-visual equipment. The rooms are scheduled to be finished in about two weeks and the Tiffen Allegro RV rally will be the first event to use the new spaces.
Staff had to move the storage area and maintenance shop to create the breakout rooms, but the additional access to this space will give the complex a dimension that the public has never been able to utilize. The old rabbit barn has been renovated and now houses the new shop.
In terms of the bigger expansion projects, Pendleton said the complex had “a verbal commitment” with the county commissioners last year to allocate about $1,000,000/year for capital improvement projects. She said the board is not tied to the agreement, but management hopes to see continued improvement to both the main hall and the indoor arena.
“People will see some huge improvements this year. But the expansion project is probably a couple years down the road,” Pendleton concluded.