Planning underway for new events building, gun range at Fairgrounds

The Stark County Park Board recently launched a funding campaign as plans for the facility move forward.

An aerial view of the Stark County Fairgrounds.
Contributed / Lisa Heiser
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DICKINSON – The Stark County Park Board is seeking funding as plans for an indoor events building move forward. Stark County Parks Director Lisa Heiser said the building will be constructed just north of the main entrance of the fairgrounds.

“It's definitely a need in our community to have, you know, an indoor arena that we can use year-round that'll have public access,” Stark County Fair Association Chair Dustin Elkins said. “A lot of the other planned arenas or arenas that exist now don't always have a lot of public access to them.”

Heiser said the building will host year round events and community gatherings.

“We will have rodeo events in there. But we'll also have Motocross, we'll have monster trucks, archery, concerts, ag shows, antique show shows,” she said.

She also plans for barrel racing, bull riding and mounted shooting events to take place in the facility. Many of those events have already committed to using the facility, Heiser said.


“There's a big array of things that'll happen over our winter months when we need some more to do, when we're all locked inside in the cold,” Heiser said. “We kind of looked at this building as wanting to do something for everyone, include everyone in the community that could have something to do out there, whether it's walking, jogging, riding their bikes, riding horses, whatever it would be.”

A large meeting room and concessions area are also included the plans. An indoor shooting range will either be part of the main building, or a second building, Heiser said.

An aerial view of the Stark County Fairgrounds, taken above Highway 22.
Contributed / Lisa Heiser

“My office will be out there eventually and we'll have some offices for the people that come out and rent the facility so that they can set up and have control of their area,” Heiser said. “Then we are thinking that we need an indoor/outdoor play park so that there's some place for the kids to play.”

She anticipates that the building will be about 500 by 300 feet, but public input meetings will need to be held before a final plan is in place. She would like to see the project bid next year and be open in 2024.

“This building is going to be a legacy for our region,” Heiser said.

The park board has enlisted the help of architects, who are in the process of designing the building and deciding what order to build each piece of the project, Heiser said.

Several local businesses donated their time and equipment to the first phase of the project, completing it in 2020.

“They all just kind of came together and made a community project of it and leveled the hill,” Heiser said. “There was about 380,000 square yards of dirt to be moved. And so what they did was they leveled that hill and made more usable pieces to the facility for us.”


The board is offering permanent and multi-year plaques and signs to be placed at various locations inside and outside the facility for different levels of donations, starting at $100. High dollar donors will get the opportunity to name different parts of the building, such as the exhibit halls and VIP lounge. The first $500,000 donor will be given the opportunity to name the main indoor arena building, Heiser said.

She and Elkins said the large events planned for the facility will bring revenue to many businesses in Dickinson and surrounding areas.

“It's going to draw people to town that are going to fill fuel and eat at the restaurants,” Elkins said. “You know, it's going to be kind of an economic push.”

Stark County Park Board Chairman Randy Schwartz said the facility will help bolster Dickinson as an attractive place to raise families.

“If you want to have people live in Dickinson, you’ve got to make it a place that they want to live,” Schwartz said. “It's not going to be their job that's going to keep them. So, you know, you just have to have activities for people. You’ve got to have a reason for them to want to live here and I just think this event center is one of the pieces.”

Fairgrounds sign
The Stark County Fairgrounds might be empty during the winter months now, but plans for an event center will bring people here year round.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press

Ashley Koffler is a Killdeer, North Dakota native and Dickinson State University graduate, with a Bachelor’s Degree in writing, and minors in journalism and psychology. Formerly working in Community Affairs for Roosevelt Custer Regional Council for Development, her reporting focuses on Stark County and other rural municipality governments, community features, business and agriculture — among others.
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