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Ag society needs $700k to move racetrack

Society hopes to have track moved by 2014

Apr 03, 2012 06:00 am | By Doug Neuman | The Westlock News

The Westlock & District Ag Society will need a lot of help from the community to get its racetrack moved.

Because of the town’s long-term plans for the current track’s location, the ag society will have to move the track to the ag grounds on the west side of the old Pickardville Road, which will be an expensive proposition.

“Including grandstands, because we’re going to have to replace those as well, we’re looking at $700,000,” society secretary treasurer Cheyanne Erickson said.

She said the society has been told that sooner than later, the track will need to be moved to accommodate the development planned for the track’s current location, just south of the Westlock Rotary Spirit Centre and the Jubilee Arena.

The town lost some baseball diamonds when construction started on the Spirit Centre, so those will have to be replaced. There could also be some expansion of the town’s graveyard and the campsite in Mountie Park.

The society will still have a few years to get the track moved, since the town does not plan to make these changes immediately.

“They want to do it sooner rather than later, but they don’t have to do it tomorrow,” Erickson said, adding the society would like to have it done by 2014 for the fair’s 100th anniversary.

The track is an essential part of the annual fair, as it draws formidable crowds to the grandstands for the rodeo, chuckwagon races, and demo derby.

“They were full all three days last summer. Jammed full,” she said. “And the demolition derby at the end, it was full to overflowing. We had to bring in extra grandstands.”

Erickson said it would not be a stretch to say that without the track, many other aspects of the fair couldn’t happen.

“If it comes down to it, if we potentially lose the track and can’t rebuild it, we’re almost guaranteed the midway would follow,” she said. “They wouldn’t want to come back if the events were gone.”

Having just begun the fundraising campaign, the society is still has a lot of work to do. Erickson said so far they have $10,000 the Pembina Dirt Bikers, and not much else.

“That’s our main starting point,” she said. ”We’ve got a couple donations over and above that but nothing significant. We’ve got about $12,000, I think.”

Both the town and the county have committed in-kind donations of machinery and the manpower needed to operate that machinery for grading and moving dirt, Erickson said. There could also be some provincial and federal grant money available.

The society already has two major fundraiser planned. On April 15, they will host a poker tournament then later in may, there will be a big garage sale at the ag barn, with some of the proceeds going to the new track.

For more information or to donate, contact Erickson at 780-307-9129.

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