New construction at The Ranch breaks ground during county fair – Loveland Reporter-Herald

Larimer County broke ground on its new 4-H, Youth and Community Livestock Arena at the Ranch Events Complex on Sunday as part of the Larimer County Fair festivities.

The new facility will create designated space for classrooms as well as agricultural projects, like raising and training livestock and companion animals, which 4-H youths currently have to share with other commercial partners elsewhere in the complex, according to Debbie Dehn, one of two Larimer County Fair parade grand marshals and an active participant in both 4-H activities and the fair.

“The 4-H building is a dedicated youth building,” she said as residents, county employees, elected employees, construction managers and other parties interested milled about the empty lot prior to the groundbreaking. “We’ve never had a building that’s just dedicated to the youth, and the horses and the livestock.”

The new building is just one of a number of new projects at The Ranch authorized by county commissioners last month, the price of which totaled around $31 million. Other improvements include an expansion of the Mac Equipment Warm-Up Arena, an expansion of the complex’s maintenance building, new Department of Natural Resources offices for county employees, outdoor riding arenas, locations for RV camping, new roadways, improved lighting on existing roads, and new trailer parking areas.

Several city and county officials were present, including Colorado State Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, Colorado State Rep. Mike Lynch, all three Larimer County commissioners, as well as Loveland City Council members Andrea Samson and Dana Foley, as well as Loveland Mayor Jacki Marsh.

“This facility is going to provide a very valuable resource to our community,” Marsh said. “We’re fortunate to have the support of a proactive county that is willing to meet the needs of a growing population, and give our youth the resources to form lasting relationships and learn about teamwork and responsibility through animals.”

The shovels used in the groundbreaking were painted gold and, in keeping with the fair’s agricultural theme, each bore the symbol of a different animal, including horses, pigs, chickens and others.

The Ranch, originally built with funds from a sales tax, was allowed to expand due to an extension of that sales tax approved by voters in 2017.

“Welcome all,” Larimer County Commissioner Kristin Stephens told the gathered crowd. “Because you’re all dignitaries, and you’re all part of this happening today, because you’re all people who pay taxes, in Larimer County, and we needed that tax to expand The Ranch.”

Construction is set to begin in earnest shortly after the fair ends on Tuesday.

Prior to the groundbreaking, many of the officials who participated, some of whom had been at the fair since it opened on Friday, gathered for the event’s annual pancake breakfast, enjoying pancakes and ham steaks — some of which were served by Colorado House of Representatives Minority Leader Hugh McKean, and watching children lasso plastic cows, and sometimes, each other.

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