Equestrian center crew working hard to ready the venue for this week’s Roots N’ Boots rodeo

Maintenance crew members, from left, Dave Brown, Chris Baker, Rob Rounds and Doug Amborn (not pictured is Cole Alford) are responsible for preparing the ground — or footing, as it is called for rodeo use — for events at Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Centre. They are among the top in their field, says Kiser Arena Specialists’ spokeswoman Courtney Stevens. Kiser prepares footing for national competitions produced by the American Quarter Horse Association and National Cutting Horse Association, among others. (Special to the Independent/Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Centre)

Spectators at this week’s Roots N’ Boots Queen Creek could find themselves actually parking on Riggs Road, in a manner of speaking, that is.

Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Centre, home of the town of Queen Creek’s signature rodeo and related events, is situated at 20464 E. Riggs Road. But now a portion of the Riggs Road thoroughfare has been incorporated into the park.

Asphalt dug up from the roadway during construction to widen it last year has been used to pave 10 acres of overflow parking on the landfill immediately north of the park, and the site is expected to be put to good use this weekend for Roots N’ Boots, said Tim Lynch, the park’s general manager.

Presented by Banner Ironwood Medical Center, Roots N’ Boots Queen Creek offers a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo, vendors, carnival, entertainment and multiple family activities for all ages. It will take place March 15-19 at Horseshoe Park and is produced by Friends of Horseshoe Park, a nonprofit organization.

Last year’s rodeo sold out, filling the park’s 3,000-seat main arena with fans on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Mr. Lynch said during a phone interview. He expects the same attendance this year, he said.
Roots N’ Boots is unique in that its success is spectator-driven, Mr. Lynch said, and more spectators translates to more vehicles to park.

“Our bread-and-butter is competitor-driven events. The number of competitors who show up make them a success. But in the case of the rodeo, we’re anticipating such a large spectator crowd that we have made an arrangement with the (Maricopa) County to use additional acres of the landfill for parking,” Mr. Lynch said.

Parking prep

Horseshoe Park has an ongoing agreement with Maricopa County to use 10 acres of the landfill, just north of the venue. Due to the high number of spectators expected this weekend, the county has allowed the park to use an additional 10 acres — for a total of 20 acres — for parking, he said.

All totaled, the park should be able to accommodate up to 1,600 vehicles a day, Mr. Lynch said. That breaks down to 200 spaces inside the park facing Riggs Road and 600-700 spaces in each of the two overflow parking areas in the landfill.

Millings created from the asphalt taken from Riggs Road were used last summer to pave the first 10 acres of overflow parking area, Mr. Lynch said.

The millings were donated by Grey Mountain Construction LLC, a Phoenix-based general contractor employed by the town of Queen Creek to oversee last year’s Riggs Road reconstruction project. The company not only donated the millings, but also the machinery and staff to deliver the ground-up asphalt and resurface the overflow parking surface, Mr. Lynch said.

Clinton Bohnert from Grey Mountain, the Riggs Road project superintendent, said the company was happy to do it.

“We talked to them and they’re very friendly people,” Mr. Bohnert said during a phone interview. “They helped us by coordinating (the park) entrances (during the road construction). We like what they do there.”

Mr. Bohnert could not remember how much milling was donated. He said his staff worked on the overflow parking lot on and off for about a month.

He estimated the project took about 40-60 hours and that the finished product should last at least 20 years.
His said his company sometimes recycles the millings into other asphalt and other times will sell it. In the case of Riggs Road, his company’s contract with the town did not allow him to sell the millings, he said.

This week, the Horseshoe Park grounds crew will use a chalk spreader to mark the newly paved overflow lot with parking space lines, Mr. Lynch said.

A crew member last week prepped the second 10 acres of overflow parking by grading and then watering the dirt, the general manager said. He estimated it took about five days using three pieces of town-owned machinery to complete the work.

Preparing footings

A greater concern when it comes preparing the venue for Roots N’ Boots is working the rodeo arena ground — called footing — for the fast-paced competitions, Mr. Lynch said. It’s difficult to do, he said, but his staff — Cole Alford, Doug Amborn, Chris Baker, Dave Brown and Rob Rounds — makes it happen.

“You have to have the footing prepared to support bucking horses and bulls as well as barrel racers. It’s a fine balance between what’s required by the two different types of athletes in order to support themselves,” Mr. Lynch said. “You don’t have time to adjust between the events, so you have to make sure the footing is just right so it’s safe for the riders, the equine and bovine.”

Mr. Lynch credits the skills of his grounds crew for making this happen and maintaining the park’s zero-accident record.

“Our staff is probably the most accomplished maintenance staff in the event facilities industry for being able to handle a variety of types of footing and get it right,” he said. “I say this based on the response we get from our customers.

“Each one of my staff works for Kiser Arena Specialists at major horse shows in the U.S.,” he continued. “They spend up to three weeks at the American Quarter Horse Association national competitions, where the horses require a very distinct and different type of footing in order to give their best performance. Our guys get a great chance for on-the-job training there.”

Kiser founder Bob Kiser and his son Jim respect the Horseshoe Park crew so much that they often call on the local crew for back-up at some of their events.

“The boys at Queen Creek are some of the best help we have ever had. We frequently call on them to help us at Kiser,” Courtney Stevens, Kiser’s director of sales and marketing, said during a phone interview.

Based in Gainesville, Texas, Kiser Arena Specialists specializes in all aspects of horse arena design, construction, renovation and maintenance, according to its website: http://kiserarenaspecialists.com.

The Horseshoe Park crew has helped out Kiser at such events as the National Reining Horse Association’s derby and futurity events, two of the largest shows of their kind in the country, she said.

“The grounds can make or break any performance,” Ms. Stevens said. “You have to pay attention to detail and take care the quality is there. The horses need to be able to give it their all, otherwise, it could be a dangerous situation.

“We’re very selective about the people we let come to work on our team. Tim and his staff are by far the most consistent group of people when it comes to skillfully working the dirt,” she said.

Roots N’ Boots 2017

Tickets for the Roots N’ Boots Queen Creek rodeo may be purchased online at http://rootsnboots.org. They also may be purchased at participating local merchants.

However, Jon Wootten, president of Friends of Horseshoe Park, recommends buying the tickets on-site if someone is planning to purchase them the day of the event.

He said the sale of advanced carnival tickets will end at 4 p.m. Thursday, the day the carnival begins. Also, tickets for each day’s rodeo will be picked up from local merchants at around lunchtime on the day of the event, he said.

Presale PRCA rodeo and carnival tickets are available at the following Queen Creek locations. Rodeo officials recommend the public call a ticket-sales site for its hours of operation and ticket availability.

•Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Centre business office, 20464 E. Riggs Road; 480-358-3710.

•Dos Cowgirls, 18530 E. San Tan Blvd., Suite 113; 480-516-1260. Dos Cowgirls also has special kids rodeo raffle tickets available for purchase.

•PRCA Rodeo tickets only are available at the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center box office, 22149 E. Ocotillo Road, or by calling 480-987-7469.

•The Queen Creek Library Annex, 21802 S. Ellsworth Road, is selling carnival tickets only; its phone number is 480-358-3700.

The PRCA rodeo will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 17, and Saturday, March 18. A 3 p.m. matinee will be held on Sunday, March 19.

2017 PRCA rodeo tickets are priced at $16 per adult general admission and $7 for children 12 and under. A family pack including two adult and two children general admission tickets is $40. Box seats are $24 and general admission for active military (with an ID) is $10. Gates open two hours prior to the start of each rodeo performance.

The carnival will be open Friday-Sunday. Presale wristbands are priced at $18 each.

Other events to watch for are clinics regarding trick horse-training and horsemanship and a rodeo dance on Friday, a cornhole tournament and a draft horse expo on Saturday, Mr. Wootten said.

For a complete schedule of events and for more information, visit the Roots N’ Boots website at www.RootsNBoots.org.



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