The Swift Current Ag and Ex Association reviewed another successful year of enhancing lives in the southwest at their Annual General Meeting held Feb. 26, thanks to an increasingly synergistic partnership with the City of Swift Current. The Association also outlined an exciting lineup of events for 2013 with a focus on the “Join the Ride” 75th anniversary of Frontier Days.
Overall, the Ag and Ex showed a profit of $132,018 in 2012.
“It’s been great, another successful year, with our partnership with the City,” said president Wade Jensen. “It’s been a phenomenal co-existence. Revenue was up, year over year … but it didn’t show on the sheet because we spent more.
“We’ve made improvements to the grounds, from the barns to the Tea Room, and we’ve got capital projects on the go again this year. I’d say the highlight is the partnership we’ve developed with the City.”
Stan Aikens, Finance Chair, said, “We really appreciate the overall contribution from the Rec and Parks, who sit down with us and look at where we can go kind of as a team. It’s a big plus.”
This year will kick off with the “Step Into Spring” Home & Leisure Trade Show, where visitors can pick up an exceptional value pack of tickets for all four days of the Frontier Days exhibition at a special 75th Anniversary price.
“We’re going to start pushing it at the Trade Show Mar. 8, 9 and 10. We’re going to be selling a four-day pass to all the events for $75 in conjunction with our 75th year. It’s going to be a one-day sale. It’s $200 worth of entertainment, so hopefully people come out in droves and get their pre-sold tickets. It’s going to be a great year and we’re really looking forward to it.”
Discover the Farm, April 19 for students and April 20 for the public, helps educate children about the sources of their food through an interactive exhibit. The program is in its second year and is enjoying rave reviews. It leads into the Poultry and Exotic Animal Sale April 20.
“I’m so happy with Glenda Allan and Tracey [Stevenson]. This year Lenora [Bells] has been helping out, really communicating and getting it out there in schools. It’s an opportunity for such a great event for the kids.”
As the focal point of Doc’s Town, the Country Pleasures Tea Room enjoyed an extensive series of upgrades in 2012 to improve the guest experience in time for the 75th Anniversary this year.
“We assisted Doc’s Town, as did the City, in expanding and improving the facility, modernizing the kitchen, making it easier on the volunteers in Doc’s Town to provide supper throughout the year and especially Frontier Days.
“They’re open from May long-ish to Oct. 1. They do a variety of things throughout the summer – ice cream, the best pies. During the [Frontier Days] fair they serve roast beef, ham and scalloped potatoes. It’s a nice little facility we have here within the facility,” said Jensen.
Re-roofing of barns has been another focus to ensure that livestock and visitors are safe and dry.
“We re-roofed another one of the barns. I believe we have one left, one of our large ones, but it’s ongoing improvement. It’s anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 per year that we’ve put into our barns to make them better and safer.”
Ranchman’s Ridin’ ‘n’ Recitin’ will be adding a youth component this year, Young Ranchman’s, that organizers hope will attract a new generation of cattle producers and public speakers.
“It will be a real good fit. There’ll be a younger crowd, and the parents, the moms and dads will come out and there’ll be some camping going on,” said Bryce Burnett, Livestock and Frontier Days Chair.
Burnett expects great participation, because currently the only other youth show in western Canada is in Bashaw, near Edmonton.
“There should be kids from quite a big area in Saskatchewan and even into Alberta competing, so it should be good. We’ve got a committee together with about 12 for the Youth Show itself. They’re quite keen on it. They’ve got some younger people on it. They’ll be showing in conformation classes and they’ll also be having public speaking and even some photography and some marketing, that sort of thing.”
Financially, the Ag & Ex is on firm ground, with a literal rainy day fund for those years where weather may put a damper on attendance.
“We do have surplus funds that we put aside,” said Aikens. “There likely will be a time in the future where we’re going to need that. We’ve had in the past where we’ve had just four days of storms and rain, and numbers are down, and you don’t sell as much in the concessions and other things.
“Generally we had a good year,” he noted. “We spent a lot of our funds this past year on capital expenditures, improving the grounds, improving our facilities. The Tea Room expansion was the main one. It already has paid big dividends. We’ve seen increased profits of about 14 per cent in our food sales from 2012, and all our activities in general we’ve seen increases in all areas, whether it was Frontier Days from the entertainment, from the Midway, and we’re very happy with them.”
Home and Leisure brought in almost 30 per cent more profit over 2011 numbers, putting $29,338 in Ag and Ex coffers, $7,509 more than in 2011. Concessions and catering generated $27,649 in revenue in 2012, with a profit of $10,603, up from $9,073 in 2011. The biggest profit generators were Frontier Days at $55,153 after expenses and the Frontier Saloon at $40,178 after costs.
In terms of livestock events, the Heavy Horse competition doubled its profit over 2011 numbers, with $1,053 in 2012, and Light Horse did exceptionally well with $5,725 in banked dollars over $1,264 in 2011. Livestock numbers were down from $4,847 in 2011 to $2,490 in 2012. While the Rodeo shows revenue of $46,986 and expenses of $45,059, it generates revenue for other areas such as Concessions and the Saloon.
The new Discover the Farm initiative turned a profit of $533 in its first year and shows great promise for 2013 with the addition of the Egg and Ex chick-hatching incubator program for classrooms.
“Over the last three or four years it’s been progressively improving,” Aikens said. “One of the big things is the Midway pass that gets them a wrist band, gets them in the gate, unlimited rides – kids just love that. And of course we’ve got the pre-sale of that at I believe about a $17 saving, so that’s pretty major for a lot of families if they can come in and get entertainment for their kids at a reasonable price. It’s good for the community.”