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Expo Center prepares for new stalls

Commissioner hopes to expand covered space
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Approximately 50 new stalls will soon be placed in the North Louisiana Exhibition Center as a way of expanding current space for keeping animals.

Over the last 15 years, the North Louisiana Exhibition Center has grown into a continuously booked venue.

Angela Manning, commissioner of the expo center, said in order for the center to continue to provide its customers what is needed, as well as expand to new customers, new stalls had to be purchased.

“We have grown in the last few years to the point that in order for us to grow to the capacity we need to, we need new stalls,” she said. “We only have 179 stalls right now, and in order to have a show that would be considered a regional or national level we need 300 to 500 stalls.”

In order to take a step toward this expansion goal, the Lincoln Parish Policy Jury gave the expo center funds to purchase 50 new stalls, which will be in place by the end of August.

“With these additional stalls we are getting, that will put us at 229 (stalls),” she said. “I don’t know how many we are going to be able to get in here. Probably not as many as we want, so we have 50 ordered. We are going to put up as many as will fit.”

In the future, Manning said she hopes to encourage the police jury to cover a warm up area for the horses used during events.

“I am hoping that in 2017, the police jury will find a way to provide us with a covered warm-up area to put the additional stalls,” she said. “In order to get more stalls, I have to have more covered area.”

Her current customers enjoy the expo center, but also need more space to use for different events, Manning said.

“The people who come here love coming here and they think it is a nice place because we are so user-friendly toward them,” she said. “But they hate to go out into the mud and the rain to warm their horse up and get their equipment nasty and take a chance of hurting their horse.
“Right now, we don’t have that because out back you are in the extreme hot sun or the pouring rain.”

The goal of the facility is to provide customers with a center that suits them to the best of their ability, Manning said.

“What we want to do is to add on to the facility and be able to put 100 more stalls around the outer edges of the warm-up area,” she said, adding that the stalls purchased by the jury was a great start.

The additional stalls will help make one of their biggest events, Run for the Diamonds on Labor Day weekend, easier for the staff and those wishing to participate.

“(The director of the event) has somewhere close to 500 entries in one day,” she said. “On Labor Day, she will have the big event and we can’t accommodate what she needs and so last year we rented everything that we could, but we had to use temporary stalls.”

Because these temporary stalls have the potential to allow horses to be too close to one another, Manning said accidents can happen.

“Some of these horses can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $100,000 and if they ever got to fighting, one of them could get hurt,” she said. “In order to keep these horses safe, we needed the permanent stalls.”

While there have been no such incidents yet, Manning said she will feel better with the permanent stalls in place.

“These stalls will be safe,” she said. “We have been fortunate that we have not had any accidents. This will calm down my worries a little bit as far as the safety of the horses.”

With the addition of the new stalls and the possibility of future funding for a covered warm-up area, Manning said she is confident the expo center would be able to accommodate regional and national events.

These events would bring in more revenue for the center as well as the parish.

She is thankful to the jury as well as the public that supported the purchase of the stalls.

“I thank you police jury for giving us the money,” Manning said. “I thank you policy jury and the public that has helped encourage them to get on board and help out here to get us to the phase that we need to be at.”

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