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Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex Dedication — Celebrating 50 years

Bemrich calls donation ‘an amazing gift’

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Lori Branderhorst, Fort Dodge Parks, Recreation and Forestry director, talks about the future of Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex during a ceremony celebrating the 50th anniversary of the park’s dedication on Sunday afternoon.

The Fort Dodge Parks and Recreation Department hosted a special event on Sunday afternoon to celebrate 50 years since the dedication of the Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex.

Several dozen community members attended the event, held on the Boulevard of Champions at the park.

The sports complex was formally dedicated on June 11, 1969, two years after Harlan Rogers agreed to donate a section of farmland north of the city to meet the town’s growing need for softball fields.

“What an amazing gift, 50 years ago, to give to this community,” said Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich. “And for all those who have given their time, effort, talents. All the wonderful players, coaches, workers who have made this park a very special place in Fort Dodge and even the whole state of Iowa.”

Over the years, the park has grown from its “humble beginnings as farm grounds to what it is today,” said Bemrich.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Several dozen community members attended a ceremony celebrating the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex on Sunday afternoon.

Today, the complex is home to 11 baseball and softball fields and 13 soccer fields over 100 acres of land.

Beginning in 1970 and continuing through to today, the Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex has hosted the past 50 Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union’s state softball tournaments.

“This complex is still one of the premier complexes, not only in the state, but in the Midwest,” said Fort Dodge City Council member David Flattery.

Through five decades of growth and successes, the community has to keep that progress going, Flattery warned.

“We’re very fortunate to have this facility, but we can’t just sit back,” he said. “We’ve got to continue to move forward. We see a lot of competition throughout the state and the Midwest for this type of facility.”

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
The family of Dean Williams stands near the dedication plaque in honor of Williams at the new north concession stand at Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex during a dedication ceremony on Sunday.

Lori Branderhorst, Parks, Recreation and Forestry director, also talked about the legacy the Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex has built over the past half century.

“This legacy is going to continue on for another 50 years,” she said.

After the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the park’s dedication, another small ceremony was held to officially dedicate and name the park’s north concession stand after Dean Williams, a Fort Dodge resident who was instrumental in helping to get the park built. In 1967, Williams approached Harlan Rogers about donating the land that would eventually be home to the Rogers Sports Complex.

While Williams, an Iowa Softball Association Hall of Famer, is deceased, his surviving family attended the ceremony.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Dave Williams, the son of Dean Williams, delivers remarks at the dedication ceremony naming the new north concession stand in honor of Dean Williams at Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex on Sunday afternoon.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich welcomes community members to the Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex during a ceremony celebrating the 50th anniversary of the park’s dedication on Sunday afternoon.