equestrian therapy. The city holds regular bull riding competitions in the arena, which also hosts clinics on horse riding and roping.
Young cowboys got tossed, flipped, spun, flung and, in one case, rolled over, by rank bulls provided by the Western States Bucking Bull Association during the Cowboy Expo. at the ConToy Arena in August. Only three riders hung on for the qualifying eight seconds. Photographs by Ann Torrence
As for major events, Thomas and other arena supporters say they expect the 1.2 acre arena—the largest public building in Sanpete County—to play host to more bull riding events and rodeos, concerts, tractor pulls, motorcycle races, mud bog races and monster truck shows.
However, they say to fully realize their vision for the arena, its facilities will have to be expanded. “The next major hurdle will be building more horse stalls,” says Steve Clark, former chairman of Arapeen Community Advisors, who oversaw construction of the center.
The arena currently has 20 stalls for use by Wasatch Academy. The plan for the near future is to build about 100 outdoor stalls and then start work on covered stalls.
City and county officials say that in addition to supporting rodeos, the new stalls could be utilized by county residents who would like to own horses but who currently don’t have any place to keep them.
The city also wants to install RV and trailer hookups near the arena. “A lot of folks who attend events such as rodeos and bull rides bring their own self-contained trailers,” says Thomas, who was also a board member of Arapeen Advisors. “Putting in hookups would allow them to stay close to their animals.”
Further in the future, Clark and Thomas hope to construct an outdoor arena. City Councilman Monte Bona, who secured grants and loans for the arena’s construction says the center is the first phase of a “heritage park” which will eventually include a race track, hiking trail, working pioneer farm and even a replica pioneer village.
If the past is a guide, much of the work of constructing the stalls and the hookups, and then building the heritage park, will be done by volunteers, without whom the arena could not have been completed.
“This has been a grassroots effort from the beginning,” says Bona. Dozens of locals, including inmates from the county prison, volunteered thousands of hours of work to pour cement, spread the dirt floor, move the stands, install the pens, raise the stalls, provide entertainment during the early events and otherwise help out any way they could.
Much of the management work was provided on a volunteer basis as well. The board members of Arapeen Community Advisors worked without a salary to see the project through.
Mt. Pleasant donated 100 acres of land in its industrial park for the arena and the future heritage park. The arena was completed with a $125,000 donation from the ConToy Family Memorial Trust, established by former Sanpete residents Connie and Toy Hansen before they passed away. Among other items, the donation paid for heaters, a sound system and a new tractor.