EATON — A celebration and ribbon cutting marking the opening of the new Bullen Equestrian Center on the Preble County Fairgrounds was held on Saturday, June 19.
Preble County Fair Board President Clinnie Stevenson opened the special event.
“I hope everyone enjoys the area that we have here,” he noted, recognizing the donors and sponsors present. “We’d like to thank you and we appreciate everything you guys have done,” he said in introducing Kaylee Lebo.
“In 2019, after a very wet, rainy Junior Fair, Wendy Jewett, a 4-H Advisor for 33 years, approached Monene Kamm and myself about her dream of having an arena covered here at Preble County,” Lebo said. “She was tired of the 4-H kids being out there in the rain and not being able to show in their show clothes, or having their horses completely muddied. Wendy approached Mary Bullen and asked her when we could get started on this project. She said, ‘Please point us in the right direction, just help us. How do we even begin to dream and make this a reality?’”
She continued, “Then 2020 happened, and we hadn’t heard much from Mary, but she approached us at the end of the fair in 2020, and she had been working on this project all along and we never knew it. She shared the plans with the three of us, and the Fair Board president and the chairman of the horses, Bill Croucher. Mary had been working with the Simmons Group and ProGrade and had preliminary plans for us. Mary has been a great leader and a major donor for this project.”
According to Lebo, when they approached Bullen, her question to them was, “How will this grow Preble County? How will it be a benefit to the whole community?”
“Mary has a great love for Preble County, and she wants to see the community thrive. She has a passion for the fairgrounds and the 4-H program,” Lebo said. “We would like to thank Mary for her support and for believing in Preble County, and we’d like to thank the people who made this arena possible.”
Bullen said it has been a community project, thanking those involved for their efforts.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Wendy Jewett, Kaylee Lebo, of course, and Mo Kamm,” she said. “This group worked hard on the details that brought us here today. And one of my favorite quotes is, ‘The devil’s in the details.’ It may not be perfect, but it wasn’t for lack of a effort. We need more people like them to step up and lend their time, their experience and leadership. Major thanks to the Fair Board for being on board. Specifically, Clinnie Stevenson, Bill Croucher, Rodney Mann and Brad Johnson. They have served alongside us throughout the project, and we thank them all.
“We’d like to thank all the different organizations, businesses, everybody,” Bullen said. “A lot of people have been involved and it’s greatly appreciated.”
She continued, recognizing Steve and James Simmons, “We would not be here today without the professional skills of the Simmons Group, who were the guiding team who laid out this dream. But putting that dream design to work was the magic of the ProGrade team: Darrell Buckley, his team, and all the great contractors who put it all together.
“But we couldn’t have made this dream a reality without the financial donations from our community,” she added.
The Bullen Equestrian Center is dedicated in honor of Bullen’s parents, James and Annabel Bullen.
“The real lottery I won in life was having them for parents, and being born in the United States,” she said during the program.
Donors were invited to join in the ribbon cutting. “This county has been great,” Stevenson closed the ceremony. “Everybody out here, especially every one of you, you’ve been a part of this, somehow, somewhere along the line, for many many years.
“I’ve been a volunteer for over 40 years,” he continued. “This is what I do every day. I enjoy working with the kids, making the 4-H program what it is today, and making sure the kids have everything they need. The horse department was the last department to have any updates in many, many years. So, I’m proud to say thanks to everyone. You guys have been great. If it wasn’t for you guys, we wouldn’t be here. Thank you all, from the board, from myself — we appreciate everything you’ve all done.”
Donors who helped make the facility a reality include:
Major donors: Mary Bullen in honor of James and Annabel Bullen, Henny Penny and the Brown Family.
Diamond donors: Rexarc/Smith Family Foundation.
Platinum sponsors: Bullen Ultrasonics, Protective Coatings, Preble County 4-H Horse Advisors Committee and Eagle Fence.
Fence sponsors: Catron’s Glass, Grey Horse Motors, The Conley & Lebo Family, Leedy Farms, Megen Construction Company, Ro-Da-O Farm, Skyline Chili Eaton, Tufts of Fluff, Twin Valley Bank and the Preble County Commissioners, Creech Farms/Lawn Plus, Freedom 1st Credit Union, Holly Craft, Country Mile Realtor, In Memory of Albert B. Combs, The Simmons Group, Preble County Ag. Society and Vonderhaar Farms/Vonderhaar Transport.
Silver sponsors: Dari Freeze & Double J Concession, Fred Jewett, Marty Hays, Montgomery County Ohio Horseman’s Council, Spring Fever Tractor Pull, Eaton City Council, Suzanne & Harold Niehaus, Ketner Sellers LLP, Adams Robinson Enterprises, Garber Electric Contractors, Veronica Combs & Michael Borchers and Horses-R-Us 4-H Club & Family & Friends.
Bronze sponsors: Brad & Kim Rogers, C Kirk Enterprises, Craig Andrew, Dorene & Don Willen, James Cox Saddlery, Manely Long Hair, Shelly & Spencer Jordan, Bailey’s Painting, Melissa & Rob Caldwell, Butler County Saddle Horse Club, The Garnett Family, Desirae Jordan, and the Butler County Ohio Horseman’s Council.
Steinke Tractor is an additional sponsor, according to Lebo.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr