It turned 50 this year, but it doesn’t look its age.
Lewis Hawkes Arena, formerly Lewis Hawkes Pavilion, over the last year has gone through a transformation that has upgraded it to a modern event centre.
Bleacher seating for over 1,000; box offices; lounge; concession; announcer’s booth; new ventilation; new lighting; new tin inside and out; and new washrooms are among the improvements to the venue.
The $1M-plus renovation was completed thanks to an Alberta Government grant and contributions from the County of Grande Prairie as well as local businesses and benevolent citizens.
It has been a part of Evergreen Park since 1982 after being moved from its original location at the old fairgrounds on the east side of the City of Grande Prairie, where it was originally constructed in 1972.It has served as minor hockey’s indoor arena; hosted entertainers like Al Cherney and Buffy St. Marie and many county music stars as part of Stompede’s beer gardens; was the home of a farmer’s market and an Octoberfest with Emerson Drive; is one of the main venues for the ag show every spring; has been where local fans have watched bull riding, barrel racing and high school and amateur rodeo championships; is a place where local horse people shelter their animals in the winter; and has hosted prime ministers, 4H’ers, gymkhana events and other equine endeavors.
On September 30th Evergreen Park is celebrating the new-look venue with a Lewis Hawkes Arena Renovation Celebration.
Doors open at 5 p.m. and there is a country fried chicken buffet at 6 p.m. Following supper there will be presentations, including thanking the many who have contributed to the renovation, and the evening continues with Dancin’ In The Dirt with the band TJ Ruckus performing.
Tickets are $20 for adults and $12 for children four to 10 years old. Three and under are free.
Tickets are currently being sold online through the Evergreen Park website HERE or by calling the Evergreen Park office at 780-532-3279 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Evergreen Park is asking people to head to their Facebook page and reply to the Lewis Hawkes Arena Renovation Celebration post with their best memory of the Lewis Hawkes. Several posts will be randomly selected and the posters will be given prizes for taking part.
There was no doubt by mid-August who the top jockey at The Horses At Evergreen Park was going to be.
Trevor Simpson led pretty much from the start of the season and widened the gap as each race weekend was completed.
Simpson ended up with 27 wins, 14 seconds and seven thirds after 74 rides over the 15-day summertime race meet at J.D.A. Raceway. He collected $129,973 in purse money along the way.
Larris Allen was second (51-13-16-11) and $79,125 collected while Orlando Foster finished third among (70-10-11-16) with $67, 601 in winnings.
Simpson had a win percentage of 36% while Allen was 25% and Foster 14%.
The battle for top trainer was a little closer.
Garry Marks ended up best over July and August with 14 wins, six seconds and a third with 29 starts and $57,245 in earnings while Lyle Magnuson was second (58-11-15-13) with $73,328 in purse money and Jason Coney of Grande Prairie third (42-10-10-7) and $49,844.
Evergreen Park finished up the summer racing season on a high note. The handle of $1,074,096 was a record for The Horses At Evergreen Park.
Biggest single day was Sunday when bettors spent $111,865. It was the largest race card of the year with nine races. There were 104 races over the course of the summer over 15 race days. Average handle per race day was $71,606 and average per-race was $10,327. The increase in online betting was a major factor in the plus-$1M final handle.
Racing in the province continues at Rocky Mountain Turf Club in Lethbridge on the B Circuit and at Edmonton Century Mile and Balzac’s Century Downs on the A circuit. Many of the horses, jockey and trainers from the Grande Prairie meet will be headed to Lethbridge.
There is going to be some local flavor at the 93rd running of the Canadian Derby at Century Mile Racetrack & Casino in Edmonton on Saturday.
The Horses At Evergreen Park racing fans will remember one of the entries – Sea Splendor.
The Kentucky-bred three-year-old won the Grande Prairie Derby at J.D.A. Raceway on July 31st.
Sea Splendor, owned by Highfield Investment Group, Inc./Dialed In Racing Stable/Graham Thoroughbreds/True North Stable, is trained by Craig Smith.
At the GP Derby he finished just ahead of runner-up El Fantasma and well in front of third place finisher Tricky Speedster.
That win netted the ownership group $15,237 and was a big factor in Sea Splendor being able to compete in the Canadian Derby.
Sixteen horses were nominated for the big $200,000 race in Edmonton, but only 12 made the cut – based mostly on earnings. Sea Splendor, with $36,421 in lifetime earnings with almost half of that coming in Grande Prairie, got into the top 12.
Former Evergreen Park Racing Club head trainer Robertino Diodoro has three horses in the field – Red Knobs, the top money-earner of all the entries with $167,242 in purses; Great Escape; and Clancy’s Pistol. Those horses finished one-two-three respectively at the Manitoba Derby earlier this month – a Manitoba Derby record for a trainer.
Norm Tremblay, manager of the Evergreen Park Racing Club and an Evergreen Park board member, is part-owner of Great Escape.
Local racing fans would have no doubt been cheering for Slaats, owned by local chuckwagon driver Kirk Sutherland. Slaats was one of the 16 nominated and was the fourth highest money earner with $131,697, but pulled out of the Canadian Derby.
Another Derby Day winner at The Horses At Evergreen Park 2022 is entered in the $100,000 Century Casino Oaks on Saturday – the last race of the day right after the Canadian Derby.
Diplomatica, trained by former local Tim Rycroft, won the Grande Prairie Oaks on July 31 at J.D.A. Raceway and is one of nine horses in the Oaks race in Edmonton.
In 2012 a memorial, called Keep On Keepin’ On, was started to recognize those in the horse racing industry who passed away.
Since then over 150 who were involved in some way in the industry in Alberta have died and a handful of those were involved in The Horses At Evergreen Park at J.D.A. Raceway in Grande Prairie.
This weekend is called Memorial & Pioneer Weekend at The Horses At Evergreen Park – it is a chance to recognize those 150-plus who are no longer with us.
There will be a display of photos and horse racing artifacts as well as a large screen presentation listing names of all who have died, a photo collage of those who left us in 2022 and also photos of those who were involved in The Horses At Evergreen Park.
“Keep On Keepin’ On is dedicated to the lives and loves of those who have gone on before - for all of us – what would have wanted us to Keep On Keepin’ On and endure through trials and hard times,” says the group’s information sheet. “Our condolences to the families that lost loved ones this past year.”
Anyone wishing to donate to the program – which includes presenting jackets to winning owners trainers and jockeys as well as a “surprise” $1,000 to someone in the industry – can contact Helen Skerstrom at email@example.com.
Flight Club and Top Shelf have joined Sizzling Wagon for a chance to compete in the Bank of America Challenge Championship for quarter horses in Indianapolis on October 22.
At the Regional (Canadian) championships on Sunday at The Horses At Evergreen Park at J.D.A. Raceway, Flight Club collected the biggest payday of the race meet ($28,540) beating out five other horses in the BOA Championship Challenge 440 yarder for three-year-olds and up.
A total purse of $57,081 was up for grabs with runner-up Rowdyvision taking $12,272 of that and third place finisher Getit Foose $6,278.
It was a good payday for Chuck Stojan, who owns both Flight Club and Getit Foose. J. Botello was on Flight Club and Ricardo Moreno on Getit Foose. Both horses are trained by William Leech.
Trainer Buckey Stockwell also had himself a good day.
He trains Top Shelf and Valiant Stevie B, which finished runner-up to Top Shelf in the BOA Adequan Derby, also over 440 yards, but for three-year-olds.
There was a purse of $46,325 in that race with $22,662 going to Top Shelf and $9,744 to Valiant Stevie B. Interes Fino, owned by Stojan and trained by Leech, took $4,985 for third.
Robert McCutheon owns Top Shelf and WT Ranches Valiant Stevie B. O. Hernandez was aboard Top Shelf, D. Benitez on Valiant Stevie B and Botello on Interes Fino.
Sizzling Wagon won the BOA John Deere Juvenile Challenge, and $24,350 of the $50,731 purse money, at J.D.A. Raceway on July 31.
In another interesting quarter horse race on Sunday, Appreciate, owned by Janice and Barry Sather of Beaverlodge and ridden by Alfredo Amador, won the Jerry Stojan Memorial Race, over 300 yards for maidens, taking $3,975 of the $7,500 purse.
Zillas Dusty was disqualified in that race for drifting, and making contact, almost the entire width of the race track from its No. 6 hole and it was determined that Jiffy Cruise, from the No 2 hole, wasn’t given a fair start and bettors were refunded.
Saturday’s feature race was the Marathon Series Stakes race over 1 1/16 miles. Rowdyrooster, owned by Cranky Acres Stables and Rick and Clayton Wiest, won that one taking home $4,770 of the $9,000 purse. Trevor Simpson, the leading jockey at The Horses At Evergreen Park with three weekends to go, was in the saddle and the horse is trained by Jim Depew.
Rowdy Rooster was claimed after the race and is now owned by Jack Bolin and trained by Clint Rycroft.
Racing continues August 13-14 with 1:15 p.m. post times both days. It is Memorial/Pioneer Weekend and many who have contributed to horse racing will be saluted at J.D.A. Raceway.
William Leech is going to be busy on Sunday. His pockets could also end up being quite a bit fuller too.
The veteran trainer is in charge of six of the 12 horses entered in two of the biggest quarter horse races of the season at The Horses At Evergreen Park at J.D.A. Raceway.
In Race 4 Sunday, the Bank of America Adequan Challenge over 400 yards for three-year-olds, Leech takes care of Interes Fino and Destello de Luna. Interes Fino is owned by local Chuck Stojan and is being ridden by J.B. Botello. Leech and Jane and Haley Moreno own Interes Fino.
Top Shelf, Valiant Stevie B, Wave Burner and Firelicious - trained by former local trainer Tim Rycroft, ridden by J.C. Rogue and owned by Beckham Ranches - are also involved in the race Bucky Stockwell trains both Top Shelf (owned by Robert McCutcheon and ridden by O.A. Hernandez) and Valiant Stevie B while W.T. Oulton trains, D.I. Benitez is riding and WT Ranches owns Wave Burner.
That race has a purse of $35,136 and is set to start at 2:15 p.m.
Right after that race, with an anticipated 2:35 p.m. post, is the Bank of America Challenge. It is also over 400 yards and is for three-year-olds and up and has a purse of $44,132.
Leech looks after Hortons Real Deal, Get It Foose, Flight Club (all three owned by Stojan) as well as Bright Foo Fighter – owned by Gonetothebrightside Syndcate). Jockey A. Anbrade is on Horton, R. Moreno on Getit Foose and Botello on Flight Club.
The other horses in the race are Honor The Fast Man, owned and trained by Tom Kenway and ridden by M. Ortiz, and Rowdyvision, who is trained by M. Moreno, owned by Isaak Fehr and ridden by A.T. Amador.
Winners from the two races will qualify to take part in the Bank of American Championship Challenge in Philadelphia in the fall.
There are seven races both days with 1:15 p.m. first posts.
Highlight race of the day on Saturday is the Marathon Series Stakes. A run of 1 1/16 miles for a purse of $9,000.
Local interest in that is in Roman Steel and Turnaround. Grande Prairie’s Jason Coney owns and trains Roman Steel, being ridden by O. Foster, while local Clint Rycroft trains and owns, with Dan Ireland and Dustin Pierlot, Turnaround. R. Lunan is steering that horse.
There is no admission fee to watch the racing.
Have you ever had Smoked Shotgun Shells?
How about Bacon-Blasted Wild Horse BBQ Wings?Or maybe Bacon Bourbon Cake?
It can all be in your hands at Baconfest II - The Power Of Bacon at The Horses At Evergreen Park at J.D.A. Raceway on Sunday, August 7.
Those three morsels are just some of the many bacon-themed items available on the 7th. There are much more and prizes too!
Admission to the races is free and you can buy as many tickets you want so you can try all the bacon items.
The County of Grande Prairie Firefighters will be back helping out, and a portion of ticket sales will be going to their charity - Sexsmith and Area Food Bank.
Baconfest is a great chance for kids to check out a fire truck. One will be on site during the day.
The bacon stations will be set up from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. on the south side of Gordon Badger Stadium. Each food item ticket is $3.
Guests will be given a passport, that will be stamped at the food stations they attend. Once their passport is filled out, that will be entered into a draw for one of several prizes. Must be in attendance to win.
Musician Denis Gallant will be performing during the afternoon from noon to 4 p.m.
Come visit us and Pig Out At The Park!
It was a slow start, but a great finish for Grande Prairie Derby 2022 champion horse Sea Splendor at Derby Day at The Horses At Evergreen Park at J.D.A. Raceway on Sunday.
The three-year-old Kentucky-bred was in sixth place out of seven horses just out of the gates, moved to fourth at the ¼ and ½ poles in the one-and-one-sixteen mile run before slipping into third at the ¾ pole and first down the stretch to win by 1 ¼ lengths and take home $15,370 of the $29,000 purse.
Richard Lunan was on board guiding Sea Splendor to its third win in seven starts for trainer Craig Smith and owners Highfield Investment Group Inc./Dialed In Racing/Graham Thoroughbreds/True North Stable
El Fantasma was second and Tricky Speedster third.
The GP Derby ended a great day of racing that also included the GP Oaks and the Bank of America John Deere Juvenile Challenge Canadian final four quarter-horses.
In the Oaks, for three-year-old fillies, Diplomatica, trained by Tim Rycroft and owned by Beckham Ranch, raced to the lead off the get-go and didn’t relinquish finishing well ahead of runner-up Steve Wonder Girl and third place finisher Mazie G.
Jockey J.C. Roque was in the saddle and helped the team to $14,575 of the $27,500 in prize money. It was Diplomatica’s second win in eight tries, but the horse has earned Beckham Ranch $48,081 since it starting racing in 2021.
One of the more intriguing races of the day was the John Deere Juvenile Challenge.
Sizzling Wagon, a 25-1 longshot, was the winner over 350 yards netting owner Buckey Stockwell $24,350 of the $50,731 purse. Andrew Wright was behind the reins and Glenn Willis is the horse’s trainer. Noble Rearing was second and Northfork Boss third.
The favorite going into the race was the Jerry Stojan-owned horse Professor Gee, which finished in fourth place.
Sizzling Wagon had now qualified to take part in the BOA John Deer Juvenile Championship Challenge in Philadelphia in the fall.
Another race of interest Sunday, at least for the Evergreen Park Racing Club, was a seven furlongs run that saw Club horse Ynotgiveitago finish in fifth place out of six horses. Buck West won that race with Equivocator second and Bradyaboss in third.
In another stakes race Sunday, this time for quarter horses three and up over 350 yards, Rocky League, with Ricardo Moreno on board, won the battle for owner/trainer Kevin Oberholtzer, and $5,305 of the $11,200 in purse money while Movin Timber was second and Obsessed Way third.
There were a couple of thoroughbred stakes races on Saturday.
In the Distaff Series, over six furlongs, Sterling Aly was the winner for trainer/owner Lyle Magnuson while in the Sprint Series, over six furlongs as well, El Dorado Storm took first for trainer Travis Robson and owners Charlie Weaselhead/Warner Many Bears/Max Gibb.
The weekend races marked the halfway point of the racing season at The Horses At Evergreen Park. Racing continues Saturdays and Sundays with 1:15 p.m. first posts until Sunday, August 28.
Per second on the track the horse that had the largest payout last year at The Horses At Evergreen Park was named Chasin Harm (in yellow left.
The five-year-old gelding earned over $1,000 per second for owner Delia Cross Child.
The total purse was $9,000 and the race was over 110 yards. It took Chasin Harm just 7.460 seconds to complete the run. The track record is 7.014 set by First Prize Sass in 2017.
On Sunday, six horses will be chasing that 7.014 record, and a cut of the $10,000 purse this year, in the 110 yard Grande Prairie Sprint – the shortest race of the season at J.D.A. Raceway.
It is Race 4 for set for a 2:30 p.m. post time.
Chasin Harm won’t be there to defend and of the six entered the Park Pick to win is Obsessed Bug.
There are seven races Saturday and another seven on Sunday at J.D.A. Raceway with 1:15 p.m. first posts.
Feature race for Saturday is the Marathon Series Leg 1 over a mile for a purse of $9,000.
Also Sunday is the Wiener Dog Derby. There will be semifinal heats after Race 2 and Race 3 and the final after Race 5. A costume contest will take place after Race 4 near the grandstand.
A fundraiser for Tiny Hands of Hope is being held via a 50/50. Anyone interested in supporting can purchase tickets online here or from one of the sellers at the Dog Derby on Sunday.
Evergreen Park is going to become Evergreen Bark on July 24.
The second Wiener Dog Derby is planned for that day and it promises to be a day of fun and frolic as the little critters compete in front of the grandstand at J.D.A. Raceway. First Derby was 2019, but because of the pandemic it was put on hold for two years.
Deadline to register for the races has been extended to noon on Friday, July 22. Information and registration form is available here or by clicking on the graphic to the right.
The mutts hit the track between races at The Horses At Evergreen Park with first horse racing post 1:15 p.m.
There is also a costume contest for daschunds and other fun events planned for participants and spectators to enjoy. A 50/50 is being held with proceeds to Tiny Hands Of Hope. You can access the online 50/50 by clicking on the logo to the left or purchase tickets at the event.
For more information phone 780-532-3279.
The road to the 2022 Bank of America Challenge Championships at Horseshoe in Indianapolis for Canadian horses starts this weekend at J.D.A. Raceway at Evergreen Park.
The John Deere Juvenile Challenge Trials go Sunday with the final, with a $30,000 purse, slated for August at the Grande Prairie oval.
The first 350 yard race is No. 1 on Sunday with a 1:15 p.m. start.
There are five quarter horses entered including Professor Gee – owned by local Jerry Stojan. Professor Gee is the favorite, according to the Evergreen Park oddsmaker.
The second BOA John Deere Juvenile Trial is Race 2 with five horses entered including Stojan’s Nobile Rearing. The Park Pick to win that race is Nobile Rearing.
The third of three quarter horses races is also Sunday. Race 3 is the GP Distance Stakes for $10,000 in prize money over 770 yards.
And, you guessed it, the favorite is a Stojan horse called Get It Foose. Owned by Chuck Stojan – Jerry’s father.
There are five horses in that race.
J.D.A. Raceway is the only Canadian track that hosts BOA quarter horse races.
Weekend racing starts on Saturday at 1:15 p.m. and that day includes two feature races – the Distaff Series Leg 1 over 5 ½ furlongs for $9,000 in purse money (Race3) and the Sprint Series Leg 1 (Race5) over 5 ½ furlongs for a purse of $9,000.
Both Evergreen Park Racing Club horses are competing this weekend. High Kelly Babe gets her first start for the Club in the first race Saturday and Ynotgiveitago, a gelding who won last weekend, is entered in the final race of the weekend (Race 6) on Sunday.
First 200 people through the gates on Saturday will receive a free hot dog and pop and this week’s Slow Horse Sweepstakes (race bettors who don’t win can enter their betting slip) is a $500 travel voucher from Marlin Travel.
There is no admission fee to watch the races.
It starts with a free surprise movie on Friday, June 3 and ends on Friday, October 29th with a double-feature in time for Halloween – Rocky Horror and Evil Dead 2.
Grande Sunset Outdoor Theatre, located in the TARA Centre Parking Lot A at Evergreen Park, will be showing movies over 12 Fridays (and one Saturday) this spring/summer/fall.
Five of those evenings will be double-features and there are a lot of classics on the schedule including Caddyshack, Smokey & The Bandit (celebrating its 45th year), Monty Python & The Holy Grail, Twister, Goonies, The Sandlot and Toy Story.
Check out the schedule here.
The movies start at dusk - which means later in the evenings for June, July and August – and there are outdoor washrooms available. Theatre-goers are allowed to sit outside their vehicles or in their truck boxes.
You can order tickets on the Grande Sunset Theatre Facebook page here.
There was some rain, there was some cold and there was some sun and heat.
In other words, it was a normal Stompede at Evergreen Park.
Normal also meant thousands of people flocked to chuckwagon and rodeo events at J.D.A. Raceway at Gordon Badger Stadium May 25-29 for the largest annual event held in the area.
Toss in some great acts at the beer garden, a midway and an art show and sale and it all added up to a great time for those thousands who made the short trip to the southern outskirts of the City of Grande Prairie over five days.
The World Professional Chuckwagon Association Dash For Cash Sunday night, an almost dead-heat between three wagons, was an appropriate way to end Stompede – which started in 1978 at the old fairgrounds on the east side of the city.
Check out Billy Melville’s story about the WPCA Stompede championship run here.
Bite The Dust All Pro Chuckwagons, the ponies, also performed as part of the evening show. You can see those results here.
The Canadian Professional Rodeo Association offered up some great performances Wednesday to Sunday including, for the first time at Stompede, Ladies Breakaway Roping. You can check out all of the rodeo results here.
Looking forward to Stompede 2023? Follow them through their website here.
The Horses At Evergreen Park return to J.D.A. Raceway in July and this year it’s back to a full schedule of events and special activities.
The live pari-mutuel racing starts July 9 and continues every Saturday and Sunday until August 28. First post each race day is 1:15 p.m.
First special event of the season is Fan Appreciation on Sunday, July 17.
On Sunday, July 24 the Weiner Dog Derby, after a two-year absence, is back.
This year, on two different Sundays, there will be barn tours – July 30 and August 20.
Get your fancy hats ready because Derby Day is planned for Sunday, July 31. That day will also feature a brunch.
Bacon Festival is also back. It goes on Sunday, August 7 with proceeds to the County Firefighters.
A Memorial/Pioneer Weekend is planned for August 13-14 and a Family Day is being held on Sunday, August 21.
The season wraps up with a pair of events – Mr. Mike’s Paint The Park Purple Race For The Cure and the Philip J. Currie Museum Dino Derby – on Sunday, August 28.
There are three big Bank of American regional championship races for quarter horses – Bank of America Championship Challenge, Adequan Derby Challenge and John Deere Juvenile Challenge – planned over the summer racing season with the winners of those events representing Canada at the championships in Indianapolis on October 22.
Most of the races at J.D.A. Raceway feature thoroughbreds and some of the main races include ACTRA events for fillies, mares, colts and geldings; Spring Series, Distaff Series, Maiden Trials, Marathon Series, GP Express, and ACTRA Alberta Bred Stakes.
Fun events are being planned for every race day throughout the summer for both children and adults.
There is no admission fee.
J.D.A. Raceway includes the 2,700-seat Gordon Badger Stadium. The same complex features the Wild Horse Casino & Lounge and Pines Family Restaurant. The Wild Horse and Pines open at 9 a.m. for a $4.95 breakfast that cont8nues until 1 p.m.
The Wild Horse, which is open from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. for gaming, features 99 slots and VLTs and live off-track horse race betting. The Pines is open until 8 p.m. daily.
During the race meet there will be a beverage tent set up near the Bit Stick Rentals Paddock. There are betting machines in the tent and under the grandstand as well as manned betting stations under the grandstand.