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Local high school junior raising $13,000 to replace fairgrounds horse arena fence
Chelan Taylor, a junior at Friday Harbor High School, is raising $13,000 to replace the fence around the horse arena at the San Juan County Fairgrounds.
It’s a sacred mission of sorts. No mere arena, this is a field of dreams, where ambition and courage have been tested for generations, a place where memories have been made, where events have become part of the fabric of our history.
This was once a baseball field. Ira Scribner threw scorchers across the plate here in the 1930s, long before he left batters standing in the Pacific Coast League. Relief catcher Norman Miller took a Scribner fastball to the throat here and lived to brag about it. He became a sports writer in Carnation.
In the 1940s, Fourth of July footraces on this ground determined the island's fastest runners.
As a horse arena, it’s been an equestrian field of dreams, where we’ve watched young athletes reach and exceed their expectations; teen equestrian Maggie Shaw qualified for state here one year after she lost a leg to cancer.
The arena has also been a showplace of 4-H talent. Thousands of 4-H animals, each the product of a year of youthful care, have been auctioned here, fueling ambitions and funding educations. Katie Gauthier got a record $200 for a dozen duck eggs here.
The arena is used 300 days a year – more than any other facility at the fair. Riders ride their horses here for free. It’s the local Pony Club’s primary facility.
And even now, Chelan’s project reinforces that this place – the horse arena, and the fairgrounds as a whole – is a community place. Islanders have long tended buildings, built buildings, moved buildings here for use. The Boy Scout house used to be a home near the cannery. The log cabin was built using logs donated by island families.
Chelan is working to replace the fence as a school project. “The fence was built 30-40 years ago and it’s rotting. Parts of it are not safe,” said the 17-year-old equestrian, who owns two horses: a quarterhorse, CJ; and a half-quarter, half-Arab, Mollie.
She began her project in February, coming up with estimates and soliciting help from Advanced Construction Systems Co., Browne's Home Center, Lawson Construction, and San Juan Trophy.
Here’s how the project works: For $200, you can sponsor an eight-foot section of fence which will have a plaque with your name on it. There will be about 68 sections of fence.
Smaller donations are just as important, and will be acknowledged on a plaque on the north end of the arena, Chelan said.
Chelan has until June 17 to raise the money. Then, 4-H’ers and their families will tear the old fence down. It will take 1-2 weeks to install the new fence. At that rate, the fence will be completed in time for the horse show in July and the fair in August.
Fair Manager Rev Shannon said the new fence will revitalize the arena.
“The old wood is lovely and the rails are good, but some of the posts have rotted in the ground and we’ve had to reinforce them with steel posts,” he said. “Replacing the fence is a necessity.”
To help make the new fence a reality, call Chelan at 360-298-1442 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.