New facility to be built in Wheaton

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Wheaton landscape will look a lot different by next spring. Dale and Janice McCracken are working to build a new two-story, multipurpose facility on Highway 86 in Wheaton.

"We have been doing rodeos all over the country for a long time," said Dale. "We always wanted to own a facility to bring the people we know to our community. We don't have anything in our area that is built more for the spectators but this will be."

The new facility will feature a 7,000-square-foot, 1,500-person grandstand over a 5,000-square-foot banquet hall. The venue, which will be built on a 20-acre lot that the McCrackens purchased in April, will also include a portable arena, livestock barns and pavilions.

"The grandstand will have nice restrooms and a concessions area," said Dale. "With a facility that can seat this many people, we will be able to bring some bigger shows and events to the area."

Crews began excavation work at the property around a month ago but recent wet weather has delayed the project's progress, said Dale.

"We will be hosting the Barry County Fair on the property next spring, so we have to be ready by then," said Dale. "We would like to have a PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) rodeo along with the fair, but we don't know about that. We will have the fair and a rodeo though."

After construction has been completed, the McCrackens plan to host one major event at the multipurpose facility each month from May through September or October of each year.

"We would like to have a PRCA rodeo, a PBA (Professional Bull Riders) event and a motorsport event with monster trucks, a truck pull and motocross and four-wheeler races," said Dale. "We will also have several concerts, including a fall bluegrass festival."

The banquet hall will be available for community events like school dances, banquets, business parties, senior citizens' dinners and even wedding receptions, said Dale.

"It will take a lot to get the facility ready for next spring," said Dale. "We are going to need a lot of help to pull it off. We have already gotten a lot of community help, not just from Wheaton, but from the Cassville area also."

Once the facility is complete and events are scheduled to be held at the location, Barry County should begin to see a major economic impact from the facility, said Dale.

"People who come in for events will need motels, groceries and gas," said Dale.

The McCrackens plan to construct RV hookups near the facility, which will be available to entertainers and athletes who participate in events at the new facility. Later, additional RV sites will be constructed for spectators who are interested in camping on-site.

"The facility is privately owned, but it will be built for the community," said Dale. "We will still be on the road but this will give us a reason to come home at least once a month."

Currently, the McCrackens are looking for individuals, businesses and organizations interested in supporting the new multipurpose facility, which will be called Gizmo's Event Center.

"Those who want to help on the ground level will be called Pioneer Partners," said Dale. "They will have signage on the property during construction and for all events held at the facility."

Supporters will also be able to sponsor the construction of the pavilions, livestock barns and other facilities on the site, said Dale.

"When I was young, they had all-night gospel singing in Springdale, Ark.," said Dale. "That was a big thing. I want to bring that to this area. We have a lot of friends who are entertainers, and we will be using the buddy system to bring a lot of talent to the area."

For more information on the proposed multipurpose facility or becoming a Pioneer Partner, call Dale or Janice at 417-652-7518.

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