Local officials officially named the Alachua County Agriculture and Equestrian Center Arena in Newberry after former county commissioner Lee Pinkoson at a ceremony on Friday evening.
Bought by the county in 2018, the site located just east of Newberry on Newberry Road underwent $8.4 million in capital improvements.
The facility will host trade shows, rodeos, livestock auctions and the Alachua County Youth Fair happening this weekend.
Marihelen Wheeler, chair of the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners, said Pinkoson’s last act when he chaired the board was to move the fair to the new site, completing decades of talk.
“Lee was here from the start,” Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe said at the ceremony. “He made this a priority; we needed a champion.”
Marlowe added that the facility would keep agriculture as the “gateway” to Newberry for decades to come.
Pinkoson also spoke, saying the facility was a needed upgrade and a small way to repay rural Alachua County.
“The rural part of the county deserved this,” Pinkoson said. “Y’all work hard, keep your head down, and don’t say much until something needs to be said.”
The site also has an extension of UF/IFAS.
Pinkoson served on the county commission from 2002 to 2018 and currently sits on the Children’s Trust of Alachua County Advisory Board after a three-year appointment by Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2020.
The Alachua County Youth Fair kicked off on Thursday with check-ins and held the first shows on Friday. Over the weekend youth from across the county will compete in an assortment of shows and contests.
Cindy Sanders, UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County director, said the majority of participants, 75 percent, come from rural areas while 25 percent are from one of the municipalities.
This year around 300 youth will participate between 4-H and Future Farmers of America.