The “Miss Money Penny,” right, was donated by Alberta Flares and sold for $1,200 to Eagle Builders. Photos by Emily Jaycox

PHOTOS: Ponoka Festival of Trees opening night gala and auction

Generous donors and bidders will help reach $100,000 goal

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.

READ MORE: 2019 Festival of Trees will fund much-needed cardiac monitoring system

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.

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Judy Dick was awarded the Festival Volunteer of the Year award, a newly created honour for an outstanding volunteer.

Auctioneer Dean Edge works the crowd during the live auction.

Dr. Greg Sawisky gives the appeal to attendees address.

Dr. Greg Sawisky drives a John Deere Gator XUV around the stage during the live auction.

A gift show, a new feature this year with giftware for every budget, was sponsored by Seasons Ponoka.

Donna Barnes buys 50/50 tickets from rodeo royalty.

The Wine Tree sponsored by The Liquor Store went for $6,000.

The entrance itself into the Frozen winter wonderland was a picture of elegance.

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