ATHABASCA – It may seem as though it sprung up over night, but the Athabasca District Ag Society’s new multi-use facility on the Agri-plex grounds, has actually been a topic of discussion for more than 20 years.
Now, with four walls and a roof overhead, the Ag Society is putting the final touches on the building and continuing its fundraising with a raffle, scheduled to take place May 28. First prize is $20,000 cash, with $10,000 for second prize and $5,000 for third. With tickets at $20 each, the winner will be handsomely rewarded for their support.
“The community has been really supportive of it, but we can’t go out and sell tickets anymore,” said Ag Society president Shelly Younker.
After years of discussion and many board members, the construction of the 100-by-252 foot facility got underway last fall. There is still interior work to be done, but Ag Society treasurer Dee Lambert is hopeful the heating system, washroom facilities and perhaps a concession area can be completed in the near future.
The construction of the $1 million-plus facility was also buoyed by two grants totalling $500,000 from the provincial government, which were matched by the Ag Society, using only their fundraising ability. Another $200,000-$300,000 will likely be needed for the remaining construction.
All things considered though, the facility is ready to be used once the coronavirus social restrictions are lifted.
“It’s a huge facility and it’s something the community has been looking for and asking for, for years,” Younker said.
Having a large, indoor horse arena, opens up possibilities of hosting larger events for more people. Both Younker and Lambert foresee future bullaramas and heavy horse competitions, for instance, that will draw people from across Western Canada.
“It was brought up many years ago that the community really needs a space to go where they can have these functions and we can host these functions indoors, year-round,” said Younker.
There is a lot more that can be done in a space so large, said Lambert. Multiple area 4-H clubs will use the space for their activities. The annual Beef Show could be held there. Horse shows, equestrian events, dog shows, archery competitions and car shows even could take place in the facility and act as a driver for the local economy, bringing enthusiasts and their dollars to town.
A total of 5,000 tickets were printed and there are still a few left. They can be found at Value Drug Mart, Cheap Seats, UFA Farm Store and at the Athabasca Advocate, along with other local businesses, or you can contact a director with the Ag Society.
The Ag Society is also interested in talking to potential sponsors who may want to put their name on the building. Younkers also reminds anyone who may be interested in a donation, that any contribution over $50 is tax refundable.