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Friday, 09 September 2011 08:48

Swift Current resident a weekly winner in the Rosebud Theatre’s Prairie Stories Contest

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Swift Current’s Al Romankewicz is the final winner in Rosebud Theatre’s Prairie Stories Contest.

The draw, which took place Aug. 27, is a weekly prize in a story-writing contest celebrating the theatre’s summer production of W.O. Mitchell’s Jake and the Kid: Prairie Seasons.

In addition to winning a copy of Who Has Seen the Wind, Romankewicz’s story, entitled “My Private Ghost” will be made into an audio recording by cast members of Rosebud Theatre’s production of Jake and the Kid.

The story itself is posted to the Theatre’s website and is about Romankewicz’s experience as a young boy working in a coal mine as a car push.

Romankewicz was in the hospital when he learned he was the weekly winner.

His wife says, “he was literally blown away,” and did not believe it until he read the e-mail of congratulations.

Now at his home in Swift Current, he says he enjoys writing down his experiences growing up in the Dirty Thirties in Saskatchewan.

Although it was “often very difficult with a lot of hard work, disappointment and doing without,” it also had many happy moments.

He writes these mostly for his granddaughter and great grandson, so they what it was like when he grew up.

The grand prize winner of the contest, which has now wrapped up, was Mel Risdon, Shine FM’s morning radio host in Edmonton.

The prize package which included a number of books by W. O. Mitchell was presented to Risdon while she was on air.

“We did weekly draws from all the submissions,” says contest coordinator, Mark Lewandowski, “but for the final selection, we narrowed it down to 20 stories which the cast read and then chose their favourites.”

Author’s names were not included with the stories, so the decision was made on how the story caught the cast’s attention.

“I think the cast agreed that Mel’s story was thrilling and interesting and very well written. It certainly had a great sense of drama.”

The story entitled “Kickin’ Badgers” relates the true story of Risdon visiting her grandfather’s farm outside Strathmore.

On this occasion, her grandfather decides to get rid of some badgers making holes in the pasture. Unfortunately, Risdon gets caught between her grandfather and a badger determined to attack her. “Obviously, I survived,” she related to her listeners on-air, “but it was terrifying.”

Strathmore youngsters Megan and Cuyler Brooks won honourable mention.

“Megan (age eight) and Cuyler Brooks (age four) of Strathmore were the youngest entrants and definitely needed to be recognized for their story,” explains Lewandowski. 

For Megan and Cuyler, they wrote about their memories of growing up which included lines like “When I was young, I dropped a plate” and “When I was young, I spilled my milk.

“Everyone who read their story just melted at it. There was a big ‘awwww’ factor, particularly because they’re so young,” says Lewandowski. “But you could tell they have the storyteller’s gift in seeing the importance in little things.”

The Prairie Stories Contest, which ran all summer long at Rosebud Theatre, received 83 original stories from contestants all over Alberta and some as far away as Vancouver and Nashville, Tennessee.

Stories varied from childhood remembrances, to works that have been published elsewhere, to family stories passed down from parents or grandparents that have now been written down for the first time.

The winning stories are posted on at www.rosebud with the recordings of winning weekly stories on YouTube. Search for RosebudTheatreAB.

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