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Earl Warren equestrian improvements supported as fundraising kicks in and events are planned

Earl Warren Showgrounds 2
John Palminteri
Earl Warren barns
John Palminteri
Renovation work will begin soon on the Earl Warren Showgrounds equestrian facilities. (Photo: John Palminteri)
Earl Warren Showgrounds 3
John Palminteri
Renovation work will begin soon on the Earl Warren Showgrounds equestrian facilities. (Photo: John Palminteri)
Earl Warren Showgrounds equestrian 4
John Palminteri
Fundraising has begun for equestrian upgrades at the Earl Warren Showgrounds

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Equestrian facilities at the Earl Warren Showgrounds will be seeing long-awaited improvements in the next few months in a plan that will have several phases.

A master plan of improvements and changes to the facility are still under discussion.

The horse community united late last year when issues over finances, fundraising, events and improvements painted a bleak picture.

An optimistic start to the year, with a project backed by the Board of Directors, was recently presented and approved.

Santa Barbara Equine Assistance and Evacuation (SB Equine Evac) team board member Karen Christensen says the Board of Directors of the Earl Warren Showgrounds (19th DAA) unanimously approved a board resolution on January 24, 2020, formalizing the partnership with SB Equine Evac to implement a phased renovation plan for the equestrian center at Earl Warren Showgrounds.

This will enable the facility to hold multiple equestrian events this year and beyond.

There are critical needs to horse rings, barns and stables. Christensen says it will improve the conditions there and be part of the overall improvements coming to Earl Warren.

She is managing the work in coordination with the Earl Warren Showground CEO Ben Sprague.


The facility has been in dire need of an upgrade for years. "When we have the outside people come in for a show or when something happens and a horse gets hurt in a stall we realize we have let it go down a long long ways. There's a lot that needs to happen to it," said Christensen. 

All improvements are anticipated to not only improve the condition of the equestrian facility but that of the entire grounds with the goal of ensuring that Earl Warren becomes a long-term sustainable facility.

Donations to fund the projects can be made to: SB Equine Evac, a 501 (c) (3).(Donations are payable to Santa Barbara Equine Assistance and Evacuation Team Inc, Memo: “Showgrounds Equestrian Renovation Fun").

The fundraising goal is $750,000 with $300,000 already raised by SB Equine Evac. Work on the project will begin soon and the fundraising effort is ongoing.

The showgrounds are also anticipating the upcoming Santa Barbara Fair and Expo set for April 29 - May 3.

The showgrounds have a rich history of events dating back decades. It is in the process of reimagining its look and use for the coming years. Many suggestions have come in.

The Earl Warren Showgrounds was developed over three years on Las Positas and Calle Real, with the Equestrian Facility finished in 1958.     

It was developed as the permanent location for the Santa Barbara National Horse and Flower show. The Exhibit building was finished in 1959, and the administration building was added in 1961.


This phase of the work is expected to begin quickly. "All of the arenas have to be done by April 15th so the fair can move in," said Christensen.


"We are not only funding we are planning and building and constructing and contracting all the work that is done here. No state funds, no state screwdrivers can be used here. That means we can think on our feet quickly we don't have to go through elaborate processes," said Christensen.

For more information about SB Equine, click here.

For more information about the showgrounds, click here.

Agriculture / Entertainment / Events / Lifestyle / Santa Barbara- S County

John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and KCOY 12 Central Coast News.

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