FLORENCE — Citizens from across Fremont County gathered Thursday to celebrate the grand opening of the Pathfinder Events Center located adjacent to Pathfinder Park in Florence.

Hopes for the center date back to 2013, six years after the park opened. It took many years of planning and applying for grants to make the dream come true. County Commissioner Dwayne McFall, County Executive Sunny Bryant and CSU Director of Extension Jeremy McNeely have worked diligently to bring the center to Fremont County.

The $3.8 million cost of the building was funded by a $1 million DOLA grant, a $500,000 contribution from the 4-H Foundation, and the county saved to cover the rest of the balance.

The community center was originally scheduled to open in late fall 2021, but due to late deliveries of building materials caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, official completion did not occur until January.

The Pathfinder Community Center building has a total area of ​​13,600 square feet. The auditorium portion of the building is 8,000 square feet and the smaller office portion of the building is 5,600 square feet. The auditorium can accommodate 511 people with chairs and tables and the conference room around 35 people with tables and chairs.

The center also houses Colorado State University’s extension office and will provide the community with the opportunity to host many other events.

The auditorium will be open to accommodate many different events, such as weddings, plays, balls, etc., with the help of the accompanying commercial kitchen. A stage and speakers are also available for musical performances. Several events are already scheduled at the center, such as the Friends of the NRA banquet and a bridal show planned for April.

McFall has a litany of hopes for the exterior of the building in conjunction with the new center. Tractor pulls, car shows and potential carnivals are all on the horizon for the center. The 2022 Fremont County Fair will also find a new home in the center.

“There’s no place as big as this to hold the number of people,” McFall said. “Current venues where many banquets are held have to cut ticket sales because there is not enough room.”

Bryant also detailed hopes of using the center as an evacuation center for local schools.

“In the event that something happens at one of the schools, they can bring students here and use it as a reunification site,” Bryant said.

This could extend to the center being used as a shelter during forest fires or other natural disasters. The Red Cross, firefighters and others could all use the center in the future – should the need arise.

“There are so many opportunities for something like this,” Bryant said.

The center is an exciting new avenue for residents to hold gatherings and those who support it hope the community will benefit.

“It’s a space that the community can use, and we’re thrilled to be able to provide a space that’s large enough,” said event coordinator Callie Masar.

For more information, call Masar at (719) 276-7399 or email [email protected]