Arkansas Valley Fairgrounds – Adobe Stables

History of the Stables

The Adobe Stables located in Rocky Ford are an important part of the Arkansas Valley Fairgrounds, which is the home and original location of the Arkansas Valley Fair. The Arkansas Valley Fair traces its roots back to George Swink, a State Senator and agriculturalist who distributed free watermelons on “Watermelon Day” as early as 1878.  From that event, the Fair was born and formally established in 1892 making the Arkansas Valley Fair the oldest continuously operating fair in Colorado.  In addition to watermelons, horse racing is a cherished local tradition. In 1938, the local school district purchased the Fairgrounds and within days submitted an application for construction of the Adobe Stables to the Works Progress Administration (WPA). By March of 1938, construction had started and was complete on November 25, 1938. It is estimated the construction of the Adobe Stables required 60,000 large adobe bricks. The Adobe Stables were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, deemed significant due to association with New Deal construction programs, in the area of entertainment/recreation because of the importance of the Fairgrounds to the development of Rocky Ford, and also for architecture for its distinctive method of construction.  Because so few examples remain, it is critically important that measures be taken to preserve and protect the Stables.

Project Description

The Adobe Stables were in continuous use until approximately 2000 when their fragile and deteriorated state required them to be vacated. Several years later, in opposition to calls for demolition, local advocates coordinated an effort to complete a Historic Structure Assessment. The high projected cost of rehabilitation stymied the effort and led to the listing of the Adobe Stables as one of Colorado’s Most Endangered Places in 2007. Consequently, the Endangered Places Weekend Workshop series in 2009 were held at the Adobe Stables, which resulted in the rehabilitation of 25 stables through substantial volunteer effort.

Besides the actual repair of Stable sections resulting from the Weekend Workshop, a more overwhelming outcome was the renewed interest and enthusiasm shared by the City of Rocky Ford employees to further preserve the Stables and to foster their newfound knowledge on how to make and repair adobe. The success of the event, and regional demand for additional volunteer opportunities that focus on adobe, made clear the opportunity to use the rehabilitation of the Stables as a tool for educating interested participants in the nearly lost art of adobe repair and construction. The City of Rocky Ford is capitalizing on this interest by creating a Preservation Maintenance Plan for the Stables that will focus on the preservation of the adobe and serve as a vital educational tool from which current and future City employees can work from and educate others, especially during planned volunteer work weekends centered on historic preservation, upkeep of the Adobe Stables and community engagement. As part of the Plan, an adobe mixer will be purchased for use during the educational volunteer work weekends and for routine maintenance work. Stable door rehabilitation is included as current door conditions render them inadequate in their function to safely contain animals. Because the Adobe Stables is a horse boarding facility, the doors, requiring more skilled labor, will also be repaired and secured to allow for greater Stable usage, which will ultimately further their preservation.

Project Support

This project is supported by the City of Rocky Ford, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the State Historical Fund, the National Park Service, and by various youth groups such as the local Boy Scout Troup, FFA Chapter, 4H Club, and Rodeo Club.

Donate to CPI

We hope you will extend your appreciation for Colorado's heritage by helping us take advantage of this $1 to $1 matching campaign. Learn more about our matching campaign and make your tax-deductible donation today!

Matching Campaign

Thank you to our donors for this matching campaign!

Karen J. Jonas

PACE Conservation Solutions


Barbara MacFarlane and Peter Marczyk

Jennifer and Nathan Charles

Rosemarie Patterson

Dan Love and Cameron Wolfe

Cindy Neely

Erin Spletzer

PACE Conservation Solutions

Carla McConnell

Richard Cronenberger

James and Barbara Steely

Gregory A. Movesian

Janet Dahlquist

Roxanne Eflin

Bennett Boeschenstein

Matt Goebel

Kim Grant

Alan Matlosz

Stephanie Soldner

Hannah Braun

Laurel Campbell

Nore Winter

Peter Grosshuesch

Andy Duckett-Emke

Kelly and Peter Merrion

Blair and Chris Miller

Mike and Anne Coughlin

Steven Turner and  Steven Kick

T. Drew Notestine

Ron and Linde Thompson

Megan Concannon

Rebecca Goodwin

Elaine Freed

Nicole Hernandez

Dan Corson

Lucas Schneider

Jon Nathan Schler

Jane and Phil Watkins

Ariel Steele 

Kimberly Kintz

Lisa A. Stegman

Graham and Paula Johnson

James and Joan Kroll

James Hewat

JoVonne P. Fitzgerald

Jennifer Wahlers

Stephen Blitz

Arianthé Stettner

Ashley Bushey

Ann Mullins

R. Michael Bell

Nan and Dave Anderson

Patrick Eidman

Beverly Rich

Jane Daniels

Kaaren Hardy

Cynthia Pond

Rheba Massey

Katherine Woods and Christopher Koziol

Paul O’Rourke

Dave Lively

Lisa May

Ann Alexander Walker

Julie Johnson

Sally Hopper


Judith W. Amico

Featured Project

Preservation for a Changing Colorado

The 2017 update, Preservation for a Changing Colorado, resulted from a partnership between Colorado Preservation and History Colorado and Colorado Preservation, Inc. Prepared by Clarion Associates, the new report and accompanying website document the economic benefits of rehabilitation projects, analyzes property values and neighborhood stability in local historic districts, and summarizes the increasing impact of heritage tourism, private preservation development and the success of Colorado’s Main Street program. In a key finding, researchers found that for every $1 million spent on historic preservation in Colorado leads to $1.03 million in additional spending, 14 new jobs, and $636,700 in increased household incomes across the state! The 2017 report also considers the important role preservation plays in helping Coloradans provide new spaces for creative communities and co-working, create and sustain meaningful places, respond to the state’s changing demographics, and address climate concerns. Click Here to see the full report, "Preservation for a Changing Colorado".