It was a winter wonderland all right but the only precipitation was money seemingly falling from the sky as donors and bidders were anything but icy.
The decorating committee, including Diane Rose of Rose Creations and a team of volunteers, transformed the Stagecoach Saloon into a Frozen snow palace for the opening night gala and auction of Ponoka’s Festival of Trees on Nov. 14.
Total numbers will take time to tally, but opening night appears to have been a flurry of success.
Ponoka and District Health Foundation co-chair Jennifer Parker was the first to speak, explaining how in this, the inaugural year of the foundation taking the reigns on the Festival of Trees, that new events and features were added to make the six-event festival even more welcoming, inviting and inclusive.
A large part of the new vision this year is due to Charlotte Winters, who the foundation hired as the event coordinator for the festival.
In Parker’s address, she announced the first-ever Festival Volunteer of the Year Award, presented to Judy Dick, as an “outstanding event volunteer” for her “unselfish, dedicated, long service” which has had a “significant difference to the festival, and therefore the community of Ponoka.”
This year’s Festival of Trees has a fundraising goal of $100,000 in order to purchase a cardiac heart monitoring system for the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre.
Dr. Greg Sawisky from Battle River Medical Clinic warmed up the crowd with his comedic explanation of the need for a cardiac monitoring system in Ponoka in his appeal to attendees address.
Sawisky says although he doesn’t mind public speaking, it’s a fear for many, who then may experience their heart beat racing.
“Which you could tell if I was attached to a cardiac heart monitoring system. Plug.”
When one’s heart is monitored in hospital, sticker pads called electrodes are attached to one’s chest, which when pulled off, tend to remove chest hair, says Sawisky.
“This even happens to men,” he said, delivering the punchline to an appreciative audience.
Donations that were announced included a $10,000 cheque from Hobbema Dental, $10,000 from Ponoka Family and Community Support Services, $2,000 from the Ponoka Agricultural Society and numerous other anonymous donations.
The live auction didn’t disappoint either, with auctioneers Danny Skeels and Dean Edge keeping things brisk.
The “Wine Tree,” donated by The Liquor Store, went for $6,000 to Makkinga Market and HE Livestock.
A Rebels suite donated by Eagle Builders was auctioned for $6,100 to VJV and the Napa Valley trip donated by Hamiltons’s IGA, Hammy’s Spirits and Direct Travel for $4,000 to Bill Kidd.
VIA Rail trip vouchers donated by VIA Rail Canada sold for $2,200 to Keith and Sherry Gummow.
A one-year Ponoka Golf Club membership was purchased by Clayton Moore for $1,600.
Flowers for a year, from Flowers for You, went for $2,700 to Rowland Parker and Associates.
The Smart Home Package donated by Tantec was bought by Tyler Fessler for $2,300.
Julie Evans, owner of Julie’s Travel, purchased the one-year naming rights to one of Nansen Vold’s bucking bulls for $3,000.
Rodeo royalty 2019 Miss Ponoka Stampede Naomi Akkermans and Miss Rodeo Sundre Mackenzie Skeels were also on hand selling 50/50 tickets.