Plum Creek News Reprints
Reprinted with permission of the Editor Tracy Blake of the New Hampton Tribune--Thank you!  


By Tracy Blake

New Hampton Tribune

Mon Jun 08, 2009, 04:52 PM CDT

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New Hampton, Iowa -

    With a faith like that of Kevin Costner in “Field of Dreams,” members of the Plum Creek Bit & Saddle Club believe, “if we build it, they will come.”
    In just three short months, the project to replace the old arena located at New Hampton Municipal Airport is taking shape and becoming a reality.
    “This arena now will be used and enjoyed by young people and families for many years to come,” said Katy Abbas, Plum Creek Bit & Saddle Club president.
    The 180-foot-by-300-foot square arena will be constructed to rodeo standards. All of the telephone polls were donated along with the Red Brand Keep Safe Horse Fence, which saved the club thousands in material costs and will help propel the project to its completion.
    “We will now be able to offer a riding arena that is safe for the youngsters, families and their horses. Injuries and falls do occur and are to be reasonably expected when dealing with equines and humans,” said Abbas. “A safe enclosure for young people riding was paramount to our goal of building this community arena. I believe we will have the safest arena in the state of Iowa.”
    The goals of the club are the same today as they were when it first started, “to provide adequate recreational and groups facilities for riding in Chickasaw County, to further public interest in horsemanship, provide displays, shows for the general public and be of a purely not-for-profit and charitable nature.”
    The arena was originally built in the mid-1950s by members of the Chickasaw Trail Riders. In 1985, Plum Creek Bit & Saddle Club formed and took over the arena to carry on the tradition. Jean Scott and her husband Dan were one of the original Plum Creek founders and are still with the club today. Dan Scott is the club’s treasurer.
    However, Jean Scott remembers spending many hours riding and showing horses at the arena. Her father, Alton Wagoner, was a founding club member and helped build the arena when she was only 13 years old.
    “A chuck wagon was built to serve food and the club ladies made and sold  food as well as helped with the club treasury. There was also an announcer stand which badly deteriorated over time and had to be torn down,” said Jean. “The club grew, and they had all sorts of family fun shows at the arena. I’m so happy to see it come back.”
    In the early years to grow the club, Plum Creek Bit & Saddle Club merged with the Sumner Saddlelites, which helped build the treasury.
    Plum Creek Bit & Saddle Club Inc. then joined the North East Iowa Saddle Club Association which allowed larger and more frequent shows. There were several two-day shows at the arena.
    “Since 2006, there has not been much activity at the arena. Older members retired and didn't really want to be involved anymore, but hoping we might get Plum Creek going again we stayed incorporated,” said Jean.
    In February, Jean and Dan Scott joined Katy and Larry Abbas in trying to spark new interest in keeping the arena and continuing the club. The membership has started to pick up, growing from about half a dozen to nearly 20 in three months.
    Work days are being planned as more materials arrive and new membership and free labor is greatly appreciated by club members. 
    “This is not just for the children and families of New Hampton but the counties surrounding Chickasaw. As word has gotten out about our work on the arena, we are getting families interested from the counties of Bremer, Butler, Black Hawk, Floyd and Winneshiek,” said Katy. “I know it will be a great success as it was sorely needed. Horses do make a difference in children and teenagers lives, and it gives them a place to go with their families. They will now have the opportunity to grow and develop a community spirit and environmental awareness sharing in the new equine arena.”
    Club members are planning big events for the new equine facility and the recent donation by the Peoria, Ill., fence company will enable those plans to become a reality.
    “When we have finished  building the arena, we will be able to host ‘mutton busting’ kid rodeos in the future at a much lower price solely because of the donation of the Keep Safe Horse Fence. It  enables the traveling rodeo, Circle C from Iowa, not to have to bring their semi-full of panels to set up an arena. They will only have to bring their chutes and livestock. This will also benefit the city of New Hampton by attracting tourists and surely boost our sagging economy in this rural town,” Katy said.
    Club members meet at 7:30 p.m. the second Thursday of each month at Zip’s Truck Equipment. When the arena is done, club members plan to have a community ribbon cutting and thank you for all the generous donations.
    “We encourage all horse enthusiasts and 4-H club members to become involved in Plum Creek Bit & Saddle Club. Our club is going to be family oriented, and we want to plan events the whole family can enjoy,” said Jean. “When the arena is completed, the club is planning a horseman ship clinic with Linn Wagoner, many folks have already signed up for it. In the future, hopefully, the club can hold many functions at the arena which would also help bring revenue to the city of New Hampton.”

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