BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — Bismarck’s population is steadily growing, along with the population, and so are many of the school systems and opportunities around town.

However, members of the Burleigh County Equestrian and Ag Committee say there has been very little development in the equine and agricultural fields to match the growing demand.

“Because of the lack of facilities to compete in the wintertime,” explained committee member Scott Flach, “there are North Dakota parents that homeschool their children so that they can spend a portion of the winter competing.”

To meet this need, the committee is in the process of working with the Burleigh County Commission to use the Missouri Valley Complex for the creation of an equine and ag event center. The facility would include a main arena, a warmup arena, and upwards of 400 stalls for competitions and events.

Committee Chair Julie Kuennen says multiple demographics can reap the benefits of the event center, including 4-H members or people involved with therapeutic riding organizations.

“It’s a paradigm shift from a four-months-out-of-the-year to an entire-year-round activity for an underserved population of Burleigh County,” she stated. “It would draw contestants for either agricultural activities, education activities, or contestants for equestrian activities, driving tourism up and visitors.”

Kuennen says that the event center be used by the North Dakota community, but also by travelers with livestock who need a place to keep them overnight — thus providing more support to Bismarck’s economy as well.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet that need as well,” she continued. “As people are traveling out to Medora to maybe trail ride, they’ll hopefully have a safe place to stall for the night, check out the Heritage Center, and check out the other offerings that we have in Bismarck, before moving on to their destination.”

Flach says interacting with animals helps people become the best version of themselves, and this building would help that happen more in our community.

To help cover the cost of the center, the committee is planning to apply for the Destination Development Grant, sponsored by the Department of Commerce. The winners of the grant will be announced at the beginning of November.

If everything goes to plan, construction on the new center is expected to begin in 2025.