Two strong financial years in a row have allowed for a record level of capital investment at Westerner Park over the past two years, Ben Antifaiff, chief executive officer and general manager, said Tuesday.
That’s meant they were able to do $2 million in capital investment in the park in 2016, and there will be another $1.2 million invested in this fiscal year at the non-profit facility in Red Deer, he said.
The major projects last year included a new Centrium roof at a cost of $800,000. As well there was an additional dressing room added to the Centrium to allow for more use, and for the Red Deer College Queen’s hockey team, which is now based there. That cost $100,000.
They also, “to the delight of many of our guests”, spent $120,000 on new event chairs, Antifaiff said. About $300,000 was spent on equipment upgrades as well.
There is an ongoing project to upgrade heating, ventilation, and air conditioning in the Stockmen’s Pavilion. That started last year and will be completed this year, for $500,000.
This year the Westerner will be hosting its first Urban Farm Festival on Aug. 20. It’s out of a vision by Westerner staff to help urban people to be educated on a common platform with rural people about the food people eat, Antifaiff said.
The farm festival involves a trade show where people can learn about things like urban farmings, such as beekeeping and canning.
Westerner Park has recently planted an inaugural crop of six garden boxes in the track centre area and the results that will be harvested this fall. “It’s very cool,” Antifaiff said.
During Westerner Days, which runs from July 19-23 this year, there will be some new agriculture-based programming, that will appeal to both rural and urban people, he said.
A Gypsy Vanner feather horse classic, pony steeple chase race series, ranchhand competition and equine mounted games are included.
Antifaiff, who has been with the Westerner Park for about a year and a half, said it is a first-class facility, and “in my eyes a gem for Central Alberta.”
Westerner Park, a non-profit organization held its annual general meeting this week. The new president and board chair Damian Zapisocky, who is from Red Deer, was elected.