Connie Patterson, president of the Dawson Creek Exhibition Association, said she was invited to company barbeque hosted by Cascade Services on Saturday, where CEO Ken Wagner and wife Jodi presented her with a cheque for $25,000. She said at the same dinner, Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm gave $2,000, Fort St. John business owner Terry McLoed gave $5,000, and Dawson Creek business owner Dwight Wilkenson gave $1,000.
She said her family requested monetary donations in lieu of flowers after the passing of her husband, Leonard, earlier this year, and that campaign raised another $12,000.
Patterson said the total donations to date stand at around $150,000, about halfway towards the total necessary to build a roof over the grandstands at the fairgrounds.
“We’re pretty excited, because it’s really coming along. I can’t see it not being on,” she said, adding she is confident it will be built in time for the 90th year of the Fall Fall next year.
That goal will get a further boost when the Dawson Creek Exhibition Association once again partners with Professional Bull Riding (PBR) for the Peace Country Cody Snyder Invitational on Oct. 22 at the EnCana Events Centre. Patterson said last year they were able to raise about $30,000 towards the roof fund through shared sponsorship money and proceeds from 50/50 draws.
This year, she said they are planning to host a dinner on the night before the bull riding event at a venue yet to be determined. She said the event will include a silent and live auction with many great items to bid on.
“Our main auction is going to be like five big-ticket items – trips to a guide and outfitting camp for two, a fishing trip somewhere, things like that.”
Patterson said they will also host a Calcutta auction where patrons will bid on the top 12 performing bulls at the even the following evening.
“You actually don’t buy the rider, you buy the bull,” she said. “The bulls are scored as well as the people, so whatever bull gets the highest score, then that’s the guy that’s the winner for first, then second and third …”
She said the house – the Exhibition Association – will get a percentage of the total wagered.
“If things work well and we get all our tables sold and our auction goes well, we should bring in about $50,000 towards the roof, so it would be really huge for us.”
However, Patterson said they are glad to accept donations throughout the year, no matter the size. She said tax receipts are issued for donation to anybody who needs them, and once the roof is built, they plan to have a “wall of fame” to recognize all the contributors no matter the size of their donation.
The Fall Fair is always at the mercy of Mother Nature, and that’s why Patterson said the grandstand roof is so important. She said in order to secure sponsorships they need to ensure bums are in seats during the rodeo and chuckwagon events, and the roof would ensure patrons could still enjoy the events in case of a brief downpour.
“That’s the importance of the roof – it sustains the event,” she said.
As for the success of this year’s Fall Fair itself, Patterson said early indicators look positive. She said commission from the midway was up about $2,000 from last year, and proceeds from 50/50 draws hit a record high of $7,500 on Saturday and a near-record of $7,100 on Sunday.
She said she is very grateful to the many volunteers who worked the food booths and the gates, provided security and directed parking, and more, and to the businesses that helped out and sponsored the event.
“I’m just so proud of my town,” she said.