Six years ago, Tractor Supply Company, the largest rural lifestyle retail store chain in the United States, put its horsepower behind a high-profile project in the company’s own backyard: a new multipurpose equestrian facility at the Park at Harlinsdale Farm in Franklin.
The facility, which was branded as “Tractor Supply Co. Arena,” was built by the nonprofit Friends of Franklin Parks and opened in late September 2015. Since then, the arena has hosted thousands for equestrian and community events.
Now the Tractor Supply Company Foundation has renewed its five-year sponsorship commitment to Friends of Franklin Parks, which operates the Arena. Friends of Franklin Parks plans to continue using the Tractor Supply Co. Arena not only for horse shows, polo matches and other community-wide events, but also to advance educational partnerships with community youth.
There has also been an arena refresh — the Tractor Supply Co. Arena has been repainted and has added the new Tractor Supply Co. Foundation logos, and an upgraded sound system has been added for the upcoming season.
“We’re honored to extend our partnership with Friends of Franklin Parks and their work at the Park at Harlinsdale Farm,” Mary Winn Pilkington, Tractor Supply’s senior vice president of Investor Relations and Public Relations and president of the Tractor Supply Company Foundation, said in a press release. “Everything we do through the Tractor Supply Company Foundation is meant to support our passion for Life Out Here. It is so exciting to support to the great quality of life and benefits that the Park at Harlinsdale Farm offers our local community.”
Founded in 1937, the 200-acre Harlinsdale Farm was a nationally recognized breeding operation for more than 75 years before it was acquired by the city of Franklin, placed under a permanent conservation easement and opened as a passive park.
A long-range plan to bring horses back to the historic farm was advanced with the establishment of Friends of Franklin Parks in 2011, a public-private partnership designed to leverage corporate and individual support to enhance public opportunities across the 18-park system.
Working with the city of Franklin’s Parks department, Friends of Franklin Parks broke ground in February 2015 on the arena project, raising the funds necessary to cover the cost of the eight-acre facility that also includes a concession stand, public restrooms and a 24-stall barn adjacent to the arena site.
Earlier this year, Friends of Franklin Parks entered into a 25-year lease to both operate the arena and restore another site in the Park at Harlinsdale Farm. Friends will restore the historic Hayes House and barn in 2022 that will serve the community as an educational site to teach about the history of the farm and horses, show art and host events.
“Our community has been enhanced by this public-private partnership, and the Tractor Supply Co. Foundation made it possible,” Friends of Franklin Parks Executive Director Torrey Barnhill said.
“We are very proud of the role our organization has played in making Harlinsdale a park where everyone can learn, play, ride and enjoy being outdoors. Friends like Tractor Supply are integral to our mission to preserve, enhance and connect Franklin’s incredible open spaces.”