Livestock folks from across the state were on hand Friday at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds as the new equine and livestock AgStar Arena, with a 16,000 square-foot show ring, opened to the public.
Paul DeBriyn, president and CEO of AgStar Financial Services; Dave Frederickson, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture; and Jerry Hammer, general manager of the State Fair, led a group of project donors and community members in a ribbon cutting ceremony.
The ceremony also marked the opening of the Minnesota Horse Expo.
"This is an exceptional day for Minnesota agriculture," DeBriyn said. "We are proud to support the Minnesota State Fair, FFA and 4-H and their efforts to bring agricultural opportunities to young people and to encourage them to consider careers in this industry."
AgStar Arena will be used during the State Fair by 4-H, FFA and State Fair open class exhibitors, complementing activities at the Lee and Rose Warner Coliseum and the Horse and Cattle Barns. It is also available for extended seasonal use for equine and livestock shows. The arena is located on Judson Avenue east of the Horse Barn and replaces the 1960s Judging Arena and Horse Annex.
The arena is named for AgStar Financial Services in recognition of their leadership gift. Other major funding was provided by American Foods Group, Minnesota Horse Council, Davisco Foods Intl., Mills Fleet Farm, and Minnesota Livestock Breeders Association.
The $3 million project was built with donations from 200 donors. It will seat 600 spectators and features portable stalling, enhanced lighting, a fire suppression system and an audio system.
"AgStar Arena is a place where people from all walks of life can learn the about the profound impact agriculture makes on our daily lives," DeBriyn added. "This is the ideal place to construct a bridge between consumers and the agriculture community."
"We are delighted to add this impressive and much-needed facility to the State Fair's livestock complex. Many thanks to our good friends at AgStar for their generosity in helping the State Fair fulfill its mission of presenting the best in Minnesota agriculture," said Hammer.
Star Plaza pavers are available for sale for $300 through August 1.
The Minnesota State Fair is one of the largest and best-attended expositions in the world, attracting nearly 1.8 million visitors annually. Showcasing Minnesota's finest agriculture, art and industry, the Great Minnesota Get-Together is always Twelve Days of Fun Ending Labor Day. The 2012 Minnesota State Fair runs Aug. 23-Labor Day, Sept. 3. Visit www.mnstatefair.org for more information.