Some events were able to be held at the Calnash Ag Event Centre in 2020, such as the Pacific Equine Sport Fall Festival Jumping show, held Oct. 1 to 4. (File photo)

Some events were able to be held at the Calnash Ag Event Centre in 2020, such as the Pacific Equine Sport Fall Festival Jumping show, held Oct. 1 to 4. (File photo)

Calnash Ag Event Centre’s finances ‘very healthy’ overall heading into 2021

The Ponoka Agriculture Event Centre Society (PAECS) held its annual general meeting on Feb. 22.

PAECS president Terry Jones gave an address, the financial report was given by Margo Hatala of Rowland Parker and Associates and the directors were confirmed.

Jones says the four partners have been working well together.

“All four partners have been just great … if we didn’t have those partners and the support we’ve gotten from them, this facility just couldn’t run the way it (does),” said Jones.

“An old friend of mine used to always say that you’ve got to have a team of horses going the same direction, and we’ve got everyone going the same direction now and it’s a lot more enjoyable, for sure.”

Another partner PAECS has had is the Government of Alberta, says Jones.

“They’ve just been super with us,” he said, adding that the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Devin Dreeshen and MLA Ron Orr have “gone to bat” for them.

“I can’t thank Ron Orr enough because you’ve kind of got to go through him to get the ball going and he’s really worked hard for us.”

The Calnash Ag Event Centre is partnered by the Ponoka Ag Society, the Town of Ponoka, Ponoka County and the Ponoka Stampede Association, all of which make up PAECS.

READ MORE: Outlook for Calnash in 2021 a waiting game

“To say the least, it’s been an interesting year with COVID, and trying to get events open and going,” said Jones.

In 2020, the Calnash was open in February and March, and from August to November.

Although there’s been a lot of negatives with the pandemic, there have been a lot of positives as well, says Jones.

“We worked so successfully this year with the Ponoka Ag Society and we all joined together and worked hard on getting the energy efficiency grant, which we’re very proud of, that we got that.”

Some of the projects that funding was spent on includes new lightening in the arena, barn and lobby, as well as the hall of fame and outside the building as well.

There is a new ventilation system as well that has provided a cost savings on the centre’s utility bill, says Jones.

Jones also noted the drainage project that was completed using the grant funding, which directs water from the roof to a 5,000 gallon tank, which water is then used for dust control in the arena.

New energy efficient coolers and freezers were also installed in the concession.

“That was really good that we all banded together and got that through.”

In a normal year, there is very little down time for maintenance, so Jones also counted that as a positive, as in 2020, some extra painting in the lobby was done and the barn is very clean.

“There was a lot of maintenance done that really needed to be done, so if there’s anything that’s good about what’s happening right now (it’s that).”

The board has met and made one, three and five-year plans and is currently getting pricing on the projects they want to complete.

A new lease is still underway, which the committee hopes to have in place in the near future, says Jones.

A lease agreement will help the facility receive grant funding for operating expenses.

Board of directors

Tammy Henklemen, Rick Cline, Danny Jones, Terry Jones, Doug Weir and Teri Underhill, (alternate Rick Bonnett) were confirmed as directors.

Financial report

The Ag Event Centre was going “full steam ahead” for about six months of the year, so the numbers are “a little bit off” from last year, says Hatala.

The centre brought in $863,000 in revenue in 2020.

Facility rentals, income from ATM fees and food and beverage sales were down, but operational grants helped fill some gaps.

The board was able to talk to Dreeshen and get $300,000 of funding for the 2020 operations, of which $103,000 which can still be spent once the doors open again.

Barrel racing had a lot of attendance, doubled from last year, bringing in good revenue despite only running half the year.

Community sponsorships continued, helping to support the ag centre.

A government grant to help cover the cost of wages was obtained in the amount of $78,000.

For expenses, salaries and benefits were down slightly but staff continued maintenance work. With less events being held, the cost of supplies and shavings also went down.

Utilities were a constant expense and equipment operation and rentals stayed about the same.

“The Ag Event Centre is in a very health position to get going on and to weather this storm,” said Hatala.