As far as arenas go, the Diamond Jubilee Recreation Centre leaves much to be desired.
Bits and pieces of ceiling fall on a regular basis, a faulty ventilation system is causing light fixtures to rust in their sockets, and users must dodge dripping water.
But the nearly 35-year-old structure at Dickson has long served as a venue for everything from hockey games and horse shows to weddings and school graduations.
That prompted the Spruce View Agricultural Society, which oversees operations at Diamond Jubilee, to issue a plea for help.
The Ag Society enlisted the musical talents of local singer-songwriter Crystal Steeves and recruited an enthusiastic cast of area residents to produce a video that it entered into UFA Co-operative Ltd.’s Rural from the Roots Up — Get ‘n’ Give Contest.
Those efforts were rewarded last week when Connie Holbein, the Ag Society’s fundraising chair, received word that her group had won the $50,000 prize.
“Everybody’s got a big smile on their face,” she said, adding that the money will go a long way towards repairing the roof and upgrading the ventilation system in the building.
Holbein, who has four hockey-playing daughters, described the Diamond Jubilee as a second home for her family. And with the arena regularly serving the needs of other users from Spruce View — as well as from Dickson, Markerville, Kevisville, Craig, Caroline, Innisfail and Sylvan Lake — restoring it is a priority for many people.
A narrative that the Spruce View Ag Society submitted with its entry said: “This is where many of us grew up and look forward to spending our evenings and weekends. This facility keeps us bonded as a community and without it we would all suffer.”
Steeves’ song, which she wrote with help from her husband Jay and input from Ag Society members, is performed to the tune of Stompin’ Tom Connors’ classic The Hockey Song.
It begins with, “Hello out there, we’re in despair, in Spruce View tonight; the arena is beyond repair, it rains out on the ice.”
In addition to appearances by Diamond Jubilee caretaker Rochel Turcotte and other community members, the three-minute and 41-second video features four-year-old Benjamin Box as Captain UFA.
“We had a lot of fun making it,” said Holbein, adding that it took about two days to complete the project.
The Spruce View Ag Society’s winnings were the third of five, $50,000 cash prizes being awarded by UFA Co-op through its Rural from the Roots Up — Get ‘n’ Give Contest. Organizations from Hussar and Foremost claimed the first two, with representatives from each community selecting the winner of the next round.
The Foremost reps chose the Spruce View Ag Society ahead of other finalists from Armena, Dalum, Hand Hills and Lomond.
“They had a creative song with original lyrics, and Captain UFA really made them stand out,” said Lylla Laqua, one of the Foremost judges.
“We came to a unanimous decision because we all felt the same way,” said Stacey Barrows, another judge.
“The prize would allow for their facility to benefit for many generations to come in Spruce View.”
Also known as the Dickson Arena and Spruce View Arena, among other names, the Diamond Jubilee Recreation Centre is owned by Red Deer County.
The Spruce View Ag Society is planning a Feb. 20 celebration, with a supper, performance by Steeves and a public skate at the arena.
Members of the community will also choose the recipient of the next $50,000 prize in UFA’s Rural from the Roots Up — Get ‘n’ Give Contest.
The Spruce View Ag Society’s winning video can be viewed online at www.getngiveufa.com/getngive_contest/umbrellas-in-the-arena.