The Strathmore and District Agricultural Society announced, Feb. 15, its campaign to raise funds for the construction of a Western Events and Cultural Centre in Wheatland County. 

An announcement event was hosted at the Strathmore Golf Club, with members of local governments, the community, and stakeholders invited to learn about the ambitions for the project. 

Ryan Schmidt, CEO of the Strathmore and District Agricultural Society, said his team was excited to show off their progress so far of the facility design, and talk about its future benefit to the region.

“We have been working on this for almost five years now, so to finally get to the point where we have got everything lined up that we can go out and raise the capital for it is a huge achievement,” he said. “Obviously this year ahead, raising the capital, there is a lot of hard work to be done there, but we feel confident that we can make this happen.”

The Strathmore and District Agricultural Society is aiming to have a total of $20 million raised by the conclusion of 2024 in order to finance the construction of the facility.

Schmidt explained the facility will serve to provide a space within Wheatland County for year-round event hosting, be it from rodeo sporting events to powwows to concerts – something that is currently lacking at the outdoor Ag Society grounds in Strathmore. 

“The facility (will) bring so much to the region, and it is not just an argument about having a space for western events or for cultural and performing arts activities,” he said. “This is about creating an economic development hub in Strathmore, (and) a place to attract tourism as the gateway to the Canadian Badlands.”

The greater facility aims to feature amenities that are rare commodities amongst western events venues. This includes a 37,900 square foot horse hotel, 5,500 square foot multi-use and roughstock arena, and 150 electrified RV and camper stalls. 

In addition to being an events venue, the facility also intends to serve as a practical space for hosting rodeo and ranching schools for future generations to learn about sports and industries. 

“Facilities like this … that can attract large events are very few and far between, so we are talking about people coming from all over Canada, even the United States and around the world, to come and compete at this facility,” said Schmidt. 

The goal is to see shovels in the ground and construction to begin in early 2025, and to see the facility officially opened in late 2026. 

More information about the project is available through the Strathmore and District Agricultural Society.

By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Feb 22, 2024 at 16:39

This item reprinted with permission from   Strathmore Times   Strathmore, Alberta

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