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News (17)

Friday, 23 February 2018 13:46

Pipeline Growing The North Topic

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The provincial government continues to be adamant on ensuring the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is approved.

“We’re not going to stop fighting until that pipeline gets built. Not only will the pipeline allow us to diversify our markets, but (will) allow us to get world class prices for our world class oil. I find it quite frustrating that because we are reliant on one buyer, they set the price and because of that, we lose about $30 a barrel from the differential,” said Deron Bilous, minister of economic development and trade.
Bilous discussed the pipeline, economy and caribou draft plan among other issues at the Growing the North Conference on Wednesday, Feb. 21 in the ENTREC Centre at Evergreen Park. He said the expansion is critical to the Canadian economy.  
“We’re talking about continuing to put pressure on the federal government. This is their jurisdiction,” said Bilous. “No provincial government has the authority to dictate what goes in the pipeline. It went through a series of consultations, it met all the environmental approvals and then the federal government approved it.
“What British Columbia is doing is unconstitutional, it is illegal and our government will continue to fight them until this pipeline goes through.”
Bilous said measures like these are sending the wrong message to international investors as the provincial government tries to attract and attain companies.
The provincial government ended talks with B.C. on electricity and banned importing wine. 
“The Premier also created a task force that minister (Marg) McCuaig-Boyd, (Environment Minister Shannon) Phillips and I sit on with a number of industry leaders, including the former deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan and others that are looking at different options.”
Economy shaping up well
Bilous said more people are working in Alberta as it had the fastest growing economy in the country last year. 
He announced there have been about 75,000 new full time jobs in the province, primarily in the private sector. 
“There are more than 2.3 million jobs in Alberta today. That’s the most in our province’s history,” said Bilous.
“Average yearly earnings are increasing too. They are by far the highest in Canada.”
Locally, he said Windsor Ford was building a new dealership in Grande Prairie on 100 Street noting that it will be the largest dealership in Canada.
Seven Generations Energy Ltd., a liquids-rich natural gas developer in Grande Prairie, received conditional approval of a $5 million tax credit to build a natural gas processing facility in the Montney Kakwa River area.
“For Seven Gen, this is great news for them expanding further and making new capital investments. Our government introduced the Capital Investment Tax Credit as a way to support business and provide some incentive,” he said. “Essentially what we’re doing is we’re levelling the playing field. These types of parameters exist in other jurisdictions and we want to encourage companies to invest today.” 
The tax credit helps Alberta companies take on new construction costs by returning up to 10% of the cost of new machinery, equipment or buildings. 
Business can claim the credit once the assets they purchased are used. 
Concerns rose over draft caribou plan 
As the federal government imposes each province to roll out a plan to protect caribou, municipalities have been expressing concerns.  
Bilous said the province needs to ensure they find the right balance in protecting jobs and caribou. 
“Part of it is through conversations we’re having with municipal leaders and industry on what does that balance look like. People have to remember it is the federal government that has laid out the framework or sandbox and we’re trying to do what we can in that sand box to ensure we’re not losing a significant number of jobs.”
The provincial plan will have a minimal impact on jobs, industries, specifically oil, gas and forestry, all will protecting caribou, Bilous said. 
“We’ve tried to be as responsive as possible. The draft plans are posted for everyone to see and we’re encouraging Albertans to weigh in on that.”
Friday, 23 February 2018 13:43

Tenille Has A Big Heart

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An annual campaign is scheduled for this weekend in support of the Sunrise House emergency youth shelter.  
The Big Heart for Big Kids concert fundraiser will be held at the Entrec Centre with the show beginning 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24. It will feature a silent and live auction followed by musical duo High Valley rocking the stage with songwriters Tenille Townes, Barry Dean, Tom Douglas and Keelan Donovan. 
“I’m a so thankful to be a Grande Prairie girl. I’m constantly in awe of the generosity and community spirit that I feel so proud to be a part of and to always been anchored in,” said Tenille Townes, musician. “I feel thankful for the opportunity to get to reach out to youth in our community. Home will always be such a special place to me and I think that’s our job as human beings, to look out for one another and find ways that we can lift each other up.”
Townes started the program when she was 15-years-old in 2010 after hearing about the number of children her age that needed a safe place to go. 
“It’s so important that they have the Sunrise House as a place to be able to find that love and guidance that they need. To keep the doors open and the operations running is very important and I’m really thankful for the way that Big Heart for Big Kids can play a part in that,” she said. 
In its inaugural year, the fundraiser generated $30,000. In 2017, they raised over $265,000 bringing in $1,256,000 in eight years. 
The money came in a time when the shelter’s future looked bleak. 
“The night of the very first year, the shelter director came to me in tears explaining that the doors of the shelter had to be closed that morning due to lack of funding,” she said. 
“That night, I think something stirred within all of us in the room to really step up and find a way to make those doors open again,” she added. ”I just can’t get over how remarkable everyone is in the way that they just keep showing up and make it happen.”
A year and a half later after the first event, the Sunrise House renovated, re-staffed and re-opened to youth in need in northern Alberta. 
“We’re able to focus on the job we are here to do as opposed to having to focus, on a regular basis how we’re going to maintain and keep our doors open. This event really took that pressure off the agency to have to be continuously fundraising or continuously looking for additional grants,” said Tanya Wald, executive director of Sunrise House. “We’re able to focus on the kids and make sure we’re providing the best care and the best services we can for them.”
Wald expressed tremendous gratitude to Townes in starting the event to keep the doors open. 
“She is an absolutely incredible human being, who we’re so proud to have as part of our agency,” Wald said. “She’s provided mentorship to some of our youth that have come to the shelter. Her involvement has gone beyond the Big Heart for Big Kids event. She’s one of my favourite people.” 
“Now with her success, she’s very busy growing her career in Nashville (Tennessee) and yet her heart is at home and the things that she has built here, she’s not forgetting about. That means a lot to us,” Wald added.
In its ninth year, Wald said she continues to be amazed by the amount of support from the community through the event. 
Sunrise House provides a 24 hour emergency shelter to support youth between the ages of 12 and 17. That includes front line staff and counselling support. 
On average, 100 children per year come through the door seeking support.
Wednesday, 27 December 2017 15:43

Champion Display at XFFC 16

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There were only five matches at the XFFC 16: Festival of Fists 2 on Dec. 15 at the ENTREC Centre at Evergreen Park. 

Of those, four bouts featured Champion Gym athletes.

The first fight was an amateur lightweight match-up with Champion’s Will Robbins versus a very tough Joe Westbrook by way of Grande Prairie’s Heiho Dojo. This bout went to a unanimous decision in Robbins favour after some spectacular trades on the stand-up and several takedowns throughout all three rounds.

The next amateur match featured lightweight pitted Jesse Bull versus local Riley Kilpatrick. Outside of some occasional strong offence, Kilpatrick was handily outstruck by the taller Bull in a mainly stand up bout.

Rounding out the amateur part of the event was Champion’s featherweight Isaiah Metituk looking for his third win against Brody Zariwny, finding it quickly 2:05 into the first round via guillotine choke.

Then, Champion’s Kyle Francotti made his impressive debut to open up the professional part of the event in the heavyweight division against Ronin Warrior’s Chris Harrison. Initially putting up resistance, Harrison was unable to match the storm of striking, ground and pound and resultant rear naked choke submission by the Bill Mahood product 3:09 minutes into the first round. 

The main event, featuring a long-awaited professional rematch between Champion’s Randy Mahon and Progressive Fighting Academy’s Tom O’Connor of Lethbridge, was explosive and short. Early in the first round, O’Connor quickly capitalized on a mistake in the stand-up and was able to get Mahon in a rear naked choke. In an incredible display of courage, Mahon refused to tap out and the referee had to stop the match 44 seconds in.


Tuesday, 19 December 2017 08:25

Nelly Coming To Evergreen Park

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The ENTREC Centre at Evergreen Park will be hopping on March 14th.

After an initial sell-out and an agreement between Nelly, organizers and Evergreen Park capacity in the ENTREC Centre has been increased so more tickets will be going on sale. Check at: for tickets.

Multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning rap superstar, entrepreneur, philanthropist and actor, Nelly, will be performing at the Park on that date.

Nelly has continually raised the bar for the entertainment industry since stepping on the scene in 2000 with his chart topping album, Country Grammar. Country Grammar spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 and spawned the massive hits “Ride Wit Me”, “Country Grammar”, and “E.I.”.

The album landed Nelly four Grammy Award nominations and sold over nine million copies worldwide.

Nelly kept the momentum going with the 2002 release of Nellyville. The album debuted at #1 on top of scoring Nelly his first two Grammy Awards for “Hot in Here” – Best Male Rap Solo Performance – and “Dilemma” [feat. Kelly Rowland] – Best Rap Song Collaboration.

He has since gone on to win multiple American Music Awards, a Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award, Soul Train Music Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, and was crowned “Top Pop, Rap, and R&B/Hip-Hop Artist Of The Year” by Billboard.

The multitalented Grammy-winning music icon, Nelly, has worked relentlessly on multiple television, film and music projects. Nelly celebrated the second season of his wildly successful BET docu-series, Nellyville and is currently co-starring in the No. 1-rated BET sitcom The Real Husbands of Hollywood for the show’s fourth season.

After collaborating with Florida Georgia Line on the 6x Platinum single “Cruise,” Nelly got back in the studio to release his newest chart topper, “The Fix” Featuring Jeremih, an update of the Marvin Gaye classic, “Sexual Healing”.

Nelly has pushed the boundaries of his artistry. After releasing “The Fix” with Jeremih, Nelly once again took the driver’s seat in a country song covering Thomas Rhett’s “Die A Happy Man”, which is actually his third time releasing a country single, following his Florida Georgia Line and Tim McGraw collaborations.

The song drew rave reviews from MTV, Billboard and CMT respectively. The song was released on iTunes on Feb. 5th, and was leading Billboard’s airplay/sales/streaming-based Hot Country Songs chart following its release. Still hard at work on his upcoming new album, Nelly has been on the road touring nationally and internationally.

Here is some information on the concert, being put on by Nu Events GP and Maddhatters:

NELLY LIVE! (18+ event)

March 14th @ Evergreen Park in Grande Prairie Alberta!

Doors open at 7pm and show time is at 8:30pm. (curfew 11pm)

*Afterparty at Maddhatters featuring Tha Coach and special guests! - $10 with concert ticket and $20 without


Opening acts:

Tha Coach (Winnipeg) -

Shayne C (Grande Prairie) -

Chris Devious (Grande Prairie) - / /

QUE (Grande Prairie) -

Frank-M (Grande Prairie) -

Please follow the pages below for up to date information regarding this show and others:

Nu Events -

Maddhatters -

Evergreen Park -


Need to book rooms while you are in town for this event?

If so, contact the Pomeroy Hotel & Conference Centre, Evergreen Park’s preferred hotel:

Need transportation to Evergreen Park and back?

If so, contact Executive Driving Services, Evergreen Park's preferred driving service:

Thursday, 07 December 2017 08:58

Stompede Tickets On Sale

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 Pre-sale tickets are now available for the 2018 Grande Prairie Stompede.


The 2018 event marks the 41st annual Stompede. It runs May 30-June 3 at Evergreen Park.

Tickets will be available via the Grande Prairie Stompede website at and are available at pre-sale rates until Feb. 1, 2018.

Tickets vary in prices depending on selection. All event passes, weekend passes, all chuckwagon passes (Wednesday to Sunday), day passes, per day rodeo passes and per day chuckwagon passes are available. as well as family passes.

The Stompede is one of the largest summer events in northern Alberta. According to a Stompede report in August to City Council, the event brings it more than 30,000 people annually, as well as 400 competitors, 1,500 animals and 80 chuckwagon outfits.

At this year’s Stompede, World Professional Chuckwagon Association (WPCA) driver Obrey Motowylo captured the $50,000 Dash for Cash and WPCA aggregate title. Manning’s Eric Rever captured the Western Chuckwagon Association’s Dash for Cash.

New Stompede president Trevor Denis recently said planning is well underway for the 2018 event. One of the changes, he noted, is that the Classroom in the Dirt program will be expanded.

“We also have a lot of exciting events coming up that will help benefit our show. I can’t really talk about them until we get the go-ahead, but there’s a lot of stuff earmarked to move forward for 2018,” he said.

For more information about the Stompede, visit their website or find them on Facebook.


Wednesday, 08 November 2017 15:24

Sutherland Saluted For 50 Years Of Wagon Racing

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Fifty years of racing, winning and family.

That was pretty much the theme of the Salute to Kelly Sutherland & Chuckwagon Racing in Clarkson Hall at Evergreen Park on Saturday.

In an event put by Evergreen Park, the Chuckwagon Heritage Foundation and Stompede, Sutherland - who celebrated his 66th birthday the day after the event - was praised, kidded and cajoled by a group of speakers including long-time chuckwagon supporter Al Side; long-time Stompede volunteer Alex McDonald (who spoke on behalf of himself and former Stompede board member Glen Keddie, who couldn't make the event); former world boxing champion from Grande Prairie Willie deWit; Western Chuckwagon Association member Lane Kimble; Chuckwagon Heritage Association member Justin Tidd; and new Stompede president Trevor Denis.

Side's speech stretched back to the Kelly's early days in the sport in the 1960s and those involved, including people like Ralph Vigen, Dave Lewis, Tommy Sinclair, Tommy Dorchester, Archie Hackwell and Kelly's father Max. Hackwell was Kelly's first tarp sponsor and Max was an important builder of the sport. They, along with people like Side himself, Fred Tissington and others, were instrumental in forming Stompede in 1978.

McDonald, who spent years as a volunteer grooming the track at Stompede cutting figure-eights like no one else, said he was told by Keddie to "not blow smoke up anyone's  _ss".

He didn't, talking about several Sutherland "adventures" including one that featured some interesting evenings at Sutherland's bar in Clairmont. He also told a story about looking for Kelly on the grounds of the Calgary Stampede and found him behind the bucking chutes sharing knee-slapping laughs, and a few beers, with a "little" guy. McDonald said that was the first time he ever met former Alberta premier Ralph Klein, who became a very good friend of Kelly's.

De Wit, who is now a judge based in Calgary, had some good-natured jabs to hand out and also praised the toughness of chuckwagon drivers. He said it was appropriate on his last night of racing at the Calgary Stampede Kelly ended the night with blood streaming down from his head after, de Wit said, he had been kicked by a horse..

He added, "a horse whisper had spoken with the horse and the horse told him he had wanted to do that for a long time."

Kimble, one of the most successful drivers on the WCA circuit, credits Sutherland for getting him started in the sport.

He got some horsepower from Sutherland - 12-time Calgary Rangeland Derby champion and 12-time World Professional Chuckwagon Association champion - and several other WPCA drivers and, handily won his first-ever race held at Stompede using a foursome of steeds that had hundreds of races under their belt.

Chuckwagon racing was so easy  he was sure there would eventually be a sign - just like the one that says Home of Kelly Sutherland on it at the north entrance to the city - erected for him with "Home of Lane Kimble" on it.

On Day 2 of Stompede Kimble hit three barrels and at that point realized that winning over dozens of championships like Sutherland has might be a little more difficult than he thought. Put the sign on hold . . . winning races is more than just about having good horses!

Kimble praised Sutherland's dedication to the sport realizing, now that he has been in it for a few years, it's a year-round job of worry, planning and expertise.

He said he was also amazed with Sutherland's knowledge of horses relating a story about a time in Dawson Creek when he couldn't figure out why one of his horses wasn't pulling properly. He said he spent a lot of time trying to diagnose the problem checking out the horse from top to bottom and finally went to Sutherland, who walked into the barn and within seconds had it figured out. "Your horse has a pulled groin," said Sutherland, who walked out of the barn past a stunned Kimble scratching his head amazed at the quick, and correct, diagnosis.

Tidd and Denis, who have been heavily involved in the sport through their association with the Heritage Foundation and Stompede respectively, also heaped praise on Sutherland for putting Grande Prairie and the local chuckwagon racing scene on the map.

Mayor Bill Given gave greetings from the city comparing Sutherland to feisty just-retired councillor Helen Rice. County of Grande Prairie No. 1 Reeve Leanne Beaupre sent a recorded message telling Sutherland how much an inspiration he has been for County residents and those around the province, country and world.

And then Sutherland, who picked up the nickname ``King`` during his 50-year career, spoke.

His wife Debbie, who has been a backbone of the Sutherland racing operation for 50 years, was just 16 and Kelly 17 when they got married, he said.

He recalls telling his dad, Max, that he and Debbie were getting hitched. Kelly didn't have a job and money was a bit of a problem in the Sutherland family.

He said his dad was broke "and I was broker."

Max told him he wasn't going to work pumping gas so he phoned a friend and got him a job at a rig site in northern Alberta - three weeks on and a week off.

During one of those weeks off he and Debbie were married on a Wednesday and headed out on a honeymoon - to Pouce Coupe. They spent two days there and then "upgraded" for two more days to Dawson Creek . . . and then it was back to the rig for another three weeks.

Debbie and Kelly have three children - Tara, Mark (a WPCA driver) and Mandi as well as six grandchildren (grandson Dayton is also a driver) and one great-grandchild. Tara is married to WCA chuckwagon driver Dean Dreger. Kelly`s brother, Kirk, is also a driver as is Kirk`s son Mitch. Another brother, Murray, died in an accident several years ago.

Kelly, winner of the Grande Prairie Chuckwagon Stompede in 1979, talked about the importance of family and the role they played in his success. He said it was really tough on the family, sometimes with and sometimes without him, from May to September during chuckwagon racing season missing graduations, weddings and other events in Grande Prairie.

He said there are a lot of people who don't like him, but "they don't know me."

Those who know him know about him visiting children at a cancer clinic in Calgary three times a year to pick up their spirits and encourage them.

His father had cancer so Kelly has some experience with the disease. The doctors told Kelly that Max had six months to live after the initial diagnosis. When he told Max the bad news they agreed they weren't going to give up. They didn't, ensuring Max got treatment, kept positive and kept fighting. He lived for 13 years after that and that's the story Kelly can tell to those young people battling the disease thinking there is no hope.

Kelly, other speakers said, worked tirelessly to promote the sport and rolled his sleeves up to do such mundane things as spending hours picking rocks off of race tracks so drivers and horses would be safe; using his own resources to help shape tracks; sponsor events related to the sport of rodeo and chuckwagons racing; and helping out after the disastrous floods in High River.

He was also one of the first chuckwagon drivers who didn`t shy away from a reporter or camera and was, as Al Side said, ``a fresh face for the sport``.

Sutherland said it didn't matter if fans in the stands were cheering for him or against him, the important thing was they were there supporting the sport.

Kelly said, for years, he and former racing legend Tommy Glass of High River didn't get along.

"It never came to fisticuffs," he said, "but we did bump chests a few times."

That all changed in 2011 when the Royal Couple, Kate and William, visited Calgary.

Kelly said Glass had his nose a bit out of joint when he, and not Tommy, was selected to officially meet the couple while Glass had to remain in the seat of the chuckwagon.

Breaking all protocol Sutherland not only showed the Royals some photos and other items from the time the Queen was in Calgary and had her photo taken with Kelly at the Stampede, he also patted William on the back (a huge no-no) saying he would make a good outrider and then also advised him he should ``go sit on the seat of the chuckwagon with Tommy Glass - he`s a world champion driver.``

Sutherland said, ``Tom and I have been good ever since then.``

Kelly also talked about the sport and how expensive it is and the importance of financial and fan support. He said he has spoken to the organizers of the Calgary Stampede about the fact prize money has not been raised in 15 years. He says he is going to remain involved in the promotion of the sport.

Grande Prairie will always be his home, he said, and he is going to ``give back`` to the community in as many ways as he can.

His first two years in the sport he was an outrider and is looking forward to getting back onto horses and spending time with his grandchildren, including a granddaughter who is in love with them and would ``ride when it`s 20 below out.``

If they ride out to Evergreen Park they`ll be able to trot by a road sign that says ``Kelly Sutherland Way`` - the fist-ever road named after anyone at the Park. That honour was bestowed on Sutherland at Saturday`s event. He also received a beautiful silver belt buckle that included his name, the words ``King`` and ``50 Years".

Others said Sutherland`s records will never be broken, but the King himself feels, because of how sport has changed with training, better athletes and other advances his marks will fall at some point.

It will probably take more than 50 years!

Monday, 30 October 2017 08:51

Trevor Denis New Stompede President

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For 10 years Trevor Denis has been a volunteer organizer behind the scenes for the Grande Prairie Stompede. 

Denis has held positions such as grand entry director, beer garden director and has worked in the VIP area. For the previous two years he served as vice-president.

Last week, Denis was named president of the Stompede at the Annual General Meeting. He takes the position over from Terri Sudnik, who held the position for six years.

“It’s always good to be acknowledged amongst your peers. It’s good to be elected in,” said Denis.

“I’m really happy to have the team that I have to work with this year. I think they’re fantastic. I’m looking forward to it. We have a good group of people and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Sudnik was the event’s longest serving president.

“(Terri taught) a number of things. She was a heck of a president for being in there for six years. There is a lot of government funding and things like that you have to think outside the box to help fund our show and the western way of life,” noted Denis.

Denis, who becomes the 19th president of the Stompede, doesn’t believe the event needs any major changes.

“I think we have a formula there that seems to be working. I think the show’s going to grow, not only in the capacity with the event itself, but the people that partake,” he said.

“(The Stompede) has grown considerably. I was born and raised here, so when it was over at the water towers (on the north-east side of the city) and then when it moved out to Evergreen Park, it’s grown considerably with our midway and helping out Evergreen Park and growing that facility as well, it’s only benefited us.”

Planning is well underway for the 2018 event, noted Denis.

He said organizers are planning to have most of the show’s bookings finalized by the end of 2017. The focus, he noted, will then shift to applying for government grants early in 2018. He said there are a few grants they’re hoping to receive that will help the Stompede “become more sustainable”.

The 2018 Stompede goes May 30 to June 3.

Friday, 27 October 2017 08:08

Salute To Kelly Sutherland

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After 50 years, the career of the greatest champion in chuckwagon racing history has come to a close.

Kelly “The King” Sutherland hung up the reins at the end of the 2017 World Professional Chuckwagon Association season.

He is being honored with A Salute To Kelly Sutherland And Chuckwagon Racing in Clarkson Hall at Evergreen Park on Saturday, Oct. 28.

“The Grande Prairie Stompede is the signature event annually at Evergreen Park so we are delighted to be able to host this salute to Kelly on Oct. 28,” said Evergreen Park General Manager Dan Gorman. “The Evergreen Park board initiated the idea of honoring Kelly this fall and both Stompede and the Chuckwagon Heritage Foundation jumped in quickly to be a part of it.

“It is going to be a wonderful event and tribute to a man and the sport of chuckwagon racing. Kelly has done so much for chuckwagon racing and the Grande Prairie area over the last 50 years. It is fitting he is being honored with this salute on the 28th.”

Sutherland leaves the sport as a 12-time Calgary Stampede GMC Rangeland Derby champion: 12-time World Champion Chuckwagon Driver; a six-time Calgary Stampede aggregate winner; and an eight-time Ponoka Stampede champion. He also won Stompede II in 1979.

Sutherland is the only driver to have competed in all 40 Grande Prairie Stompedes.

“The legacy and contribution from Kelly Sutherland has placed Grande Prairie region on a world stage and brought recognition to the sport of chuckwagon racing,” said Stompede president Terri Sudnik. “His investment into Canadian western heritage has led the foundation for the Grande Prairie Stompede to give back to our community over the past 40 years.”

Sutherland is a founding member of  Stompede and was its first president. Over one million patrons have watched him competed at Stompede since 1978 - an event that contributes $6.5 million dollars back into the local economy annually.

“On behalf of the Grande Prairie Stompede, we tip our hats to the legend Kelly Sutherland and say Thank You!”

The Chuckwagon Heritage Foundation has also been heavily involved in the sport both at Stompede and around the Peace Country with amateur events.

“For 50 years Kelly Sutherland has dedicated his life to the sport of chuckwagon racing and representing Grande Prairie on the world stage,” said Chuckwagon Heritage Foundation president Justin Tidd. “The Grande Prairie Chuckwagon Heritage Foundation is proud to be able to celebrate this amazing accomplishment with Kelly and Debbie and to honor ‘The King’ in his retirement from the sport he shared with the fans of chuckwagon racing for so many years.”

The Oct. 28th event starts at 6 p.m. and continues until 1 a.m. and will include a buffet meal, midnight lunch, special guest speakers and lots and lots of memories.

Tickets are sold out!

Monday, 02 October 2017 08:20

Horse Racing Club Sees Success

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Evergreen Park Racing Club 2017 is in the books . . . and the 2018 version is officially underway.

The Evergreen Park board, on Wednesday, officially approved the formation of Evergreen Park Racing Club 2018.

The decision to continue the Club was no doubt made easier by the success of the first-ever racing club in 2017.

Evergreen Park General Manager Dan Gorman made the announcement about the 2018 Club at the 2017 Club windup at Evergreen Park on Thursday night at Badger Stadium at the Park.

It was not just a great year for the Club, but for The Horses At Evergreen Park as well, said Gorman.

Gorman revealed there was a 58 per cent increase in the handle at The Horses At Evergreen Park this year over 2016 . . . and some of that can be attributed to the Evergreen Park Racing Club 2017.

Club horses raced during the July-August pari-mutuel schedule seven times and each time a Club horse was featured Club members came out in droves. Attendance, especially among the younger demographic, was up overall over the season.

Gorman also said the fact there were more and fuller races was a factor in the increased interest and handle. Evergreen Park provided free sawdust bedding for all of the 350-plus horses over the summer and, says Gorman, that encouraged more owners to bring horses to Grande Prairie for the summer.

Most weekends there were over 20 races and most of those races had six to eight horses in each of them.

Full race cards create more interest, more betting and a better handle.

It was also announced on Thursday that each 2017 Club member, a total of 106 of them, would be getting a cheque for $136.80.

Racing Club manager Norm Tremblay, who has owned horses for years, said being able to give Club members a return at the end of a racing season is somewhat unusual. Tremblay (left) is shown in the photo with the first 2018 members - Jan and Joe Gass - and Gorman on the right.

It was announced Thursday that Tremblay will be returning as manager for 2018 and the Club will also be retaining the services of renowned trainer Robertino Diodoro to help the Club “scout” for horses for 2018.

"I would like to thank and congratulate our Club members," said Tremblay. "And to thank Evergreen Park for the support.

"I also want to thank Allen Goodsell (assistant trainer to head trainer Robertino Diodoro) and his team for the horse care and training.”

Tremblay said the Club will likely purchase at least two more thoroughbreds and could upgrade somewhat this year for better quality horses.

Improving on the 2017 numbers would be impressive.

Club horses were in the money – first, second or third – over 70 per cent of the time and won 44 per cent of the time. The best numbers of any owners at Evergreen Park this past summer.

Red N Black Attack raced four times at Evergreen Park and won twice; Xtreme Spell raced twice and was first once; and the third Club horse that appeared at The Horses At Evergreen Park, Dman Doughty, was in the gates once and finished fifth. Another Club horse, Command The Land, raced twice under Club colors at Northlands Park in Edmonton and won once, but was claimed in that winning race and didn’t appear in Grande Prairie.

Tremblay said the 2018 Club horses may again train in Edmonton before venturing to Grande Prairie for the summer season.

For many of the Club members it was their first experience with the sport.

“It was so much fun following our horses and learning about racing,” said Club member Garett Dika, who had never been involved in the sport. “I didn’t get out to many races, but kept on top of it through the Evergreen Park website and the Club Facebook page. It was a lot of fun.”

Dika said he had no idea what a claiming race was until Command The Land was lost to another owner in the spring.

“It was explained to me that’s horse racing. It’s a way to keep things honest and even and I’m all for that. I found out a lot about the sport and I’m looking forward to being a member again in 2018.”

At the windup Thursday many of the 2017 Club members who were in attendance signed up to be part of the 2018 club. Jan Gass was the first returnee and her husband, Joe, the first new recruit for 2018.

Anyone wanting to join the Club can do so in several ways.

It can be done online at or by picking up a registration form at the Evergreen Park administration offices in the ENTREC Centre; at the Pines Restaurant & Casino; or by contacting the Park at 780-532-3279 and having a membership for sent.

For more information on the Club contact Tremblay at 780518-7914.

Monday, 11 September 2017 13:26

Evergreen Park Has Impact

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Evergreen Park’s activities have increased substantially over the last year, creating potential to bring in more revenue, park representatives said in a presentation to county council.

One reason for the new activity: Renovations were completed last November on Clarkson Hall, thanks to a federal Canada150 grant and money from the County, said Dan Gorman, the park’s general manager. The hall used to have just one event a year – the farm family banquet. Now 35 events are booked for 2017.

Although the park is still carrying $4.7 million in debt, that’s left over from building facilities such as the ENTREC Centre and the casino, and from work done on the track. They’ve been steadily paying it down and haven’t added any additional long-term debt in the last few years, Gorman said.

“We’re pleased to recognize that five years ago we were over $8 million in long-term debt and we’ve been able to pay that down to 4.7 in 2016.”

Gorman said they’re proud they were able to maintain the facilities and renovate Clarkson Hall and the Drysdale arena despite the downturn.

The park’s operations budget is $6 to $7 million. In 2017 to date, revenues are at $1.8 million and expenses are $1.6 million. That’s a little above the budgeted revenue and a little below budgeted expenses, said finance chair Bridget Hennigar.

“We’re quite happy with the progress we’ve made to date,” she said, adding they’re working on new ways to generate revenue, such as more events. Some examples:

More paint nights are being held at the Pines Restaurant and a new 50-seat family restaurant has opened under the grandstand.

They’re also looking to have more corporate training there during the day time. “We want to utilize that whole park 24-7,” Hennigar said.

Three new user groups have approached the park about potentially having events there: The Grande Prairie Polo Club, the disc golf club and indigenous groups who are looking at the park as a venue for an annual pow wow and other events.

Gorman said the board is considering asking the user groups to provide support  in maintaining the park. This could mean a fee or simply asking the groups to donate volunteer hours. The park board will be meeting with user groups to discuss it, Gorman said.

Close to 500,000 visitors come to the park every year, spending $9.4 million. The park’s overall impact on the region is $43 million, more than 90% of which is spent within the City of Grande Prairie, Gorman said.

The numbers come from an independent economic impact study that was done for regional ag societies across Alberta.

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