Wednesday, 09 March 2016 16:47

Swift Current Ag & Ex reflects on a busy 2015 at annual meeting

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The highlights of another successful year were celebrated at the  Swift Current Agricultural and Exhibition Association (Ag & Ex) annual general meeting on March 2.

Reports from various committees were presented at the meeting, which indicated that programming expanded at the different events during the year.
“I think we had an excellent year,” Ag & Ex President Steve Philp said after the meeting. “Revenues were down somewhat, but that’s somewhat to do with the economic conditions and this coming year it could be even worse, we don’t know. We’re hoping for the best but last year I think went over really well.”
Overall financial results were not as good as in the previous few years. The organization posted a small deficit of $3,294 for 2015 compared to a net income of $53,542 in 2014.
The Ag & Ex was able to maintain its working capital and cash positions for 2015. It had minimal liabilities at the end of the financial year and no long-term debt.
Overall revenue dropped from $955,031 in 2014 to $696,292 in 2015. This was due to lower attendance at the Frontier Days grandstand performances and a reduction in some of the grants and donations to the organization. At the same time overall expenses decreased from $901,489 in 2014 to $699,586 in 2015.
“We’d like to keep growing every year, we’d like to keep going up on our income or our profit end of it, but there’s always going to be dips,” he said. “We just hope we can come back this year and overcome our little bit of a loss and maybe make a profit that will balance it all out.”
From year to year the success of the outdoor events can be influenced by weather conditions, but the Ag & Ex benefits every year from the commitment and hard work of staff, sponsors and volunteers.
“We have excellent volunteers, though we’re always interested in more volunteers,” he said. “So if anybody out there wants to volunteer, please get hold of somebody on the Ag & Ex board or one of the committees. There’s always room for more.”
The 2015 Frontier Days was attended by close to 26,000 people. Ag & Ex Vice President and Frontier Days Livestock Chair Bryce Burnett was impressed with the success of the 4-H livestock show and steer show, which resulted in record-breaking prices with an average sale price of $3.07 per pound and an average weight of 1,299.85 pound. The highest selling steer was sold by Derek Dowerkson at $6.25 per pound for $9,246.98.
“A lot of the 4-H members were taking home some real good money in that $5,000 to $6,000 range for their steers,” he said. “It was probably the best sale that we've ever had.”
There has been significant growth in attendance by 4-H clubs at Frontier Days in recent years and there were more animals than ever at the 2015 event.
“Our barns were full and just about overflowing,” he said. “It's great to see the youth coming out and supporting it.”
He felt the livestock committee is able to present a well-organized event and improvements have been made to the barns.
“We've done as much as we can to run a pretty good show and by partnering with the City now we've been able to improve on the barns,” he said. “The roofs are all tin, the electrical is good and so we have improved our facilities. ... They see the facilities are great, so there's no hesitation in coming.”
Another success was the large number of exhibitors that used the space provided in the Stockade building during Frontier Days to present their goods and services to visitors.
“We had trouble filling the Stockade with exhibits at one time a few years ago, but a highlight again was that we packed it right in,” he said.
The rodeo committee under leadership of Uli Cartman presented another well-organized event at Frontier Days. As a result the Canadian Cowboys Association (CCA) selected the Frontier Days rodeo as the 2015 Rodeo of the Year.
Philp, who chairs the Doc's Town committee, said the historic village had an excellent year in 2015.
“We’re very, very happy with people learning about Doc’s Town and coming out supporting us, and all the rest of the things for Frontier Days and all the activities that the Ag & Ex has put on,” he mentioned. “We’re quite happy with the community. The community support is there, which is all we need. We have to have community support.”
The 4th annual Discover the Farm along with the poultry and exotic animal sale attracted over 1,500 people. Over 400 students from the Chinook School Division participated in two days of educational activities about agriculture and farm safety.
The 9th annual Ranchman’s Ridin’ & Recitin and Young Ranchmans’ all-breed livestock show was also well attended with over 900 visitors and 200 competitors during the weekend who came from across southwest Saskatchewan and Alberta. New activities at the 2015 event were a display of purebred bulls and a popular ranch rodeo on the Sunday.
The partnership between the Ag & Ex and the City of Swift Current makes a crucial difference to the success of events held at Kinetic Exhibition Park.
“We've been very fortunate working along with the City and partnering with the City on various parts of Frontier Days and the exhibition grounds,” Burnett said. “They take care of all the maintenance and everything and then we chip in and put some of our revenue into the buildings and the upgrades on the grounds.”
The expanded and upgraded Magnus Newland Arena hosted two rodeos and regional barrel racing during 2015.
“We've kind of sacrificed a little bit of our parking,” he said. “So we're trying to figure out how we can do the parking a little bit better in that area because of what the Magnus Newland Arena took up.”
The upgrading of the campground area will benefit the hosting of future events at the exhibition grounds.
“They're in the midst of now working on the campgrounds,” he said. “We've expanded the campgrounds a little. So we have to do some due diligence in there and make sure that we've got enough camping for all the 4-H members down there. So there's quite a bit of upgrade in that area that we've been doing and it's going to work out great.”
The focus of the Doc's Town committee during 2016 will be the renovation work that is required at the portable train station.
“That’s probably our main priority,” Philp said. “The roof on the blacksmith shop was damaged in a wind storm and that’s been repaired. The house roof needs to be re-shingled and that’s in the works now, but our main priority for this summer to get the train station refurbished and the siding and the roof fixed on it.”
Visitors to Doc's Town this summer can look forward to the 100th anniversary of the one-room school building that will take place on July 30 and 31.
It will include a reunion of former students who went to school in that old building.
Another certain highlight for the Ag & Ex during 2016 will be the hosting of the CCA Finals rodeo in Swift Current from Oct. 19 to 22.
During the past decade this event has taken place in Regina in association with Canadian Western Agribition. Last year the CCA signed a five-year contract with the Ag & Ex and the City of Swift Current to host the season's final rodeo in Swift Current.

Read 9641 times Last modified on Thursday, 10 March 2016 09:11
Matthew Liebenberg