Weyburn Ag Society weathers challenges in 2018

The Weyburn Agricultural Society came through some challenging times in the past year, including their first attempt at an eight-day Fair, and will move on with a seven-day event in 2019, under a new president.

The Ag Society elected Clay Schira as their new president at the annual meeting on Dec. 11, and set the dates for the 2019 Fair to run from Sunday, June 30 to Saturday, July 6.

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In addition, the Souris River Rodeo will be held on July 5-6, with the 4-H Show from Monday to Wednesday, July 1-3, chuckwagon races on the Monday and Tuesday, the Demolition Derby on July 6, and the Parade will be held on Thursday instead of Monday, due to the Canada Day holiday.

Of last year’s Fair, out-going president Jeff Clay said, “Our eight-day marathon of a Fair was the biggest change, but I am glad to report we made it through with only minor scars. With big change came big challenges, such as finding a midway, changing dates, adding new events, combining old events. There was all kinds of chaos at times, but we battled through and came out on top.”

Some of the new aspects of the Fair included the smoker cook-off, the Calamity Cowgirls show from Estevan, and the knocker balls.

The rodeo was affected by the hot temperatures, with heat warnings on both days of competition, which affected the attendance, also rodeo chair Schira noted that the stock provided was unusually inexperienced and the quality of the rides subsequently suffered.

The “Rumble in the Ring” was also affected by the heat, said chair Tyler Metheral, and the large audience who usually attends the demo derby did not materialize. He also thought that moving it from the usual Wednesday evening time to Sunday afternoon also hurt attendance as it wasn’t advertised enough.

The Flavours of Fall, held on Oct. 6, was a success for the Ag Society with more than 800 people in attendance, and a well-attended after-party hosted by the Young Fellows Club. The Ag Society is in discussions with the Curling Rink for next year’s event, as they want to move it off the Thanksgiving weekend in 2019.

The Ag Safety Day also went over well, said organizer Laura Morrissette, with a total of 187 Grade 3 students from the five elementary schools in the city, and 22 volunteers were on hand to man the various stations with demonstrations and presentations.

Coming up in 2019 will be two cattle shows, with the Herefords show starting on July 24, and the Charolais show will follow right behind with possibly over 300 head to be brought in for the competitions.

“There will be a whole lot of families coming to town, with a lot of catering, shopping, hotels, restaurants. It’s all positive,” said Clay, noting the opening show “is a big deal in the Hereford world. It’s awesome to have it back again. If we can put on a good show, the word will go out, and it will be awesome for us.”

Council representative Winston Bailey told the annual meeting that through his company, Remax Realty, they will build a new announcers stand in the rodeo ring, replacing the current one, about eight-foot by 12-foot in size.

Metheral asked that Neal Keefe, who passed away this past year, be named as an honourary vice-president, in tribute to his 40-plus years of volunteering with the Ag Society.

In his report to the AGM, Clay said of Keefe, “Neal was always here for the Agricultural Society. He wore many hats over the years and will be greatly missed around this organization. Thank you for all the hard work and dedication you gave to the Weyburn Agricultural Society over all the years.”

On the financial side, the Ag Society had a total revenue on the year of $112,411, and expenses of $65,567. The revenues were down by about $18,000 from the previous year, with a large drop in gate receipts at the Fair blamed on the hot temperatures.

Positive aspects to the revenue included holding the chuckwagon races separately, which made about $10,380 for the Ag Society, plus the midway receipts were up by about $3,000 from the year before.

Some of the expenses were also down, such as entertainment expenses, which were down about $19,000 from the year before. Overall, expenses were down $28,000 from 2017.

In general operations, the Ag Society had total revenues of $63,740, and expenses of $214,392, a loss of $150,652.

In the overall statement of operations, the Ag Society had a loss of $52,385, but it was pointed out by the auditors that this isn’t as bad as it sounds, as $38,000 of that was due to amortization. This is not a cash loss but is on the books only, so the real loss was about $14,000, compared to $3,000 the year before.