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A milestone for curling facility

Fran Holden accepted thanks from a multitude of people gathered Thursday at the

Plans to construct a curling club in Brainerd this fall moved another step closer as supporters gathered for groundbreaking Thursday. 

The ceremonial shovels lifted clumps of dry ground and fading grass as onlookers stood bathed in sunshine on a late summer’s day thinking of four sheets of ice. 

“We’ve come together today to see the realization of a dream,” said Andy Miles, Brainerd Lakes Curling Association board chairperson. Miles said what began with three friends — John Raboin, Mark Ostgarden and Bob Kapitzke — grew to more than 80 people who thought a curling facility would benefit the community. 

When benefactor Fran Holden provided a generous donation, those plans, concepts and dreams found solid footing. 

“We would not be here today if not for her generosity,” Miles said. The group gathered on the bare grass near a stand of pine trees behind the monster ears building cheered and applauded when Miles said: “We are going to have a curling facility.”

The Fran Holden Arena “will rise from the ground we stand on today,” Miles said. “It will be a place that will make the Brainerd area a better place for everyone.”

Dan Thesing, Crow Wing County Fair Board president, said the board can’t wait until next year’s fair to show the facility off. The fair board isn’t sure whether the building, which it will be able to use during the summer, will have vendors or exhibits. 

“No matter what, it will be an awesome addition to the fair,” Thesing said. 

It will be the fair’s first building that will be open year round. 

“I think it’s wonderful,” Holden said. “I really do.”

Holden said she isn’t a curler herself, but she think it will be good for the community. “I think it’s going to grow. We need something for the winter here.” 

The facility will have the basics of four ice sheets and a heated observation room and restroom facilities. Brainerd Lakes Curling Association plans are to continue fundraising in order to add a restaurant and bar down the road. 

Philanthropist Fran Holden and her late husband, Clarence Holden, were quiet benefactors to the community for many years. She said the curling center will be around for a long time into the future. Holden said building  will provide construction work now and the promise of tourism dollars and the ability to create future jobs when the restaurant is eventually added. 

“I really would rather give to Brainerd,” Holden said of her decision to donate. 

The curling facility, 75 feet by 200 feet, is expected to open in January. 

Brad Arnold, Hy-Tec Construction of Brainerd, said the steel building’s west wall will be just beyond the fence that now separates a stand of tall pines from the Crow Wing County Fairground’s south parking lot. Arnold said the stand of pines will be removed in order to fit the building into the space the fair wanted and following setbacks. Arnold said the wood will be put to use and not wasted and future plantings will be added. 

The Brainerd Lakes Curling Association was formed in 2006 and now has roughly 100 members. More photos are available via a spotted gallery at

Raboin said he has no doubts the curling facility will be a draw for the community, adding, “We will have an Olympic team coming out of Brainerd at some point.”

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at or 855-5852.