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Wednesday, 09 October 2013 14:53

Fundraising supper and auction Oct. 12 to benefit Val Marie’s Heritage Elevator

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Wooden grain elevators are quickly disappearing from the prairie landscape.

There are people trying to put a halt to the loss of these landmarks and in Val Marie, this means saving the 85-year-old elevator.
According to a news release, a group of Val Marie residents led by Maurice Lemire, whose father was the first Val Marie elevator agent, are determined not to let the village’s elevator deteriorate to the point of no return. The first step in the process of regeneration is to restore the elevator’s exterior.
With that in mind, the community is trying to raise enough money to get the Val Marie Heritage Elevator restored. According to information from the fundraising committee, more than $25,000 has already been raised locally in this small community of about 110 people. This includes hosting pancake breakfasts, harvest suppers and burger cookouts.
Laureen Marchand, who owns Grasslands Gallery in Val Marie, says while some people from the outside of the town may think it’s just an old building, it’s much more than that.
“To the people who live here, it’s an emblem of our heritage,” explains Marchand. “It’s intrinsic to the community. It reminds residents of the economic success here. The heartstrings are tied to (the)wood crib elevator.”
 On Thanksgiving weekend, Saturday, Oct. 12, the Val Marie Elevator Committee is hosting another fundraiser — a Community Supper at the Val Marie Hall. Tickets for the roast beef dinner are $15.
The Hall doors and the bar will open at 5 p.m., with supper at 5:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased on the night.
The Val Marie Hotel is donating the supper preparation and most of the food.
Besides a supper, there’s a variety show with Bob Lemire, Dave Cyca, Jim Harbor, Joseph Naytowhow, Kathy Grant, Ken Christopher and more. All the musicians are donating their talent and time.
The Oct. 12 event includes a live and silent auction, with items such as a 2008 Dodge Caravan; artworks, photographs and books donated by local artists; quarters of beef donated by local ranchers; a tour of bison in Grasslands National Park with internationally-known bison expert Wes Olson; 70 square bales of hay also donated by local ranchers and many other amazing items. All proceeds go the elevator.
Roofing and siding a building of that size and age doesn’t come cheap. The committee has found a contractor experienced at this work, and the contractor will donate 15 per cent of costs to the project, but to make it happen, another $20,000 must be raised.
In 2012, a cabin built from elevator wood was raffled off, along with donated items.
Matching grants have been applied for and awarded by the Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation, for a total of $22,000.
Trying to raise yet another $22,000 seems like quite a stretch to those from outside of Val Marie.
After all, the community itself exists of 110 people. However, Marchand says they are a plucky bunch. Having just moved to Val Marie in 2009, she still marvels at how resilient they are and how much the citizens love their community.
“For a small place, it’s always amazing to me to see the amount of community spirit it has (collectively),” explains Marchand. “They believe they can (raise enough funds).”
The elevator is at one end of Centre Street in Val Marie. At one time, there were approximately 3,300 Saskatchewan crib-style wooden grain elevators. By the close of 2009, the list of known such elevators in the province had declined to approximately 420. There are fewer than that remaining now.

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor