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Posted on: December 28, 2023

St. Charles County Purchases National Equestrian Center

National Equestrian Center

St. Charles County Purchases National Equestrian Center in Lake St. Louis

Lake St. Louis, Mo.—One of the few remaining places for big horse shows in the St. Louis region will soon become a St. Charles County park. 

The National Equestrian Center (NEC), a 54-acre site at 6880 Lake St. Louis Blvd., is being sold to St. Charles County for $5.9 million, following a unanimous vote by the County Council in October. 

St. Charles County Parks Director Ryan Graham says there’s nothing like the NEC for more than a hundred miles around. 

“Without the NEC, your big horse shows that need hundreds of stables for horses, they just couldn’t fit anywhere else around here,” Graham says. “They’d have to go to either Sedalia, Mo., or Springfield, Ill.”

In St. Louis County, Queeny Park hosts a handful of equestrian competitions, but on a much smaller scale. Boone County had also operated an equestrian facility at one time, but no more. 

“It’s a tourism destination that attracts people from around the country, and we look forward to carrying on the tradition of hosting high quality equestrian events, and expanding the operations and offerings of the center,” Graham says. 

Graham says the site could be used for horse-related events and other things—everything from rodeos to music festivals, barbecue competitions, car shows, cornhole tournaments, antique shows, flea markets, dog shows and more. It also provides the opportunity to introduce kids and families to the art of riding, handling, and training horses and the recreational, emotional, and therapeutic benefits of doing so. 

The site features three arenas, six barns, 585 horse stalls, 63 camping spaces and almost four acres under roof. The main show area features more than 5,000 square feet of upper-level banquet space that can seat up to 250 people overlooking the arena. This space is available to rent for wedding receptions, birthdays, and special occasions. 

“NEC is most excited about having more support for our operation,” says NEC Facility Director Dana Jensen. “The idea of being part of a larger family and joining the County Parks System will grow our strength and our opportunities.” 

Operated since the 1990s by Carmelo Natoli (of Natoli Engineering fame), the center has been managed by surviving family members after his death in 2012. With developers seeking to convert the site to new homes, the Natoli family approached the County asking that the NEC be saved for equestrian use and as a greenspace.

Plans call for keeping the center fully operational with its existing show schedule, while the County Parks Department takes over day-to-day administration. The new park will complement two other County parks where horseback riding trails are provided: Broemmelsiek Park and Indian Camp Creek Park.

County Executive Steve Ehlmann has attended horse shows at the facility and has been impressed with the operation and pledges to maintain the same high standards.

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