While the future of the grandstands at Meadow Lake’s stampede grounds still remains in question, the public's support for events at facility was evident this weekend.
Several World Professional Chuckwagon Association drivers, including Gary Gorst and his two sons Dustin and Logan, were in town for a three-day fundraiser for the Meadow Lake Grandstands Committee, a group advocating to update the structure. The event was run by volunteers from the Meadow Lake Lions Club, and drivers from the North West Saskatchewan Pony Chuckwagon and Chariot-Racing Association also participated.
Dustin Gorst, a driver originally from the Meadow Lake area, came up with the idea and said he was happy with the turnout.
“It was a great success,” Gorst said. “People in the town mostly proved that this matters to them. It is part of our heritage and something that should stay. The amount of people that were standing behind us is pretty cool, and it means something that it is here.”
Gorst said this was one of many fundraisers, and he's hoping at least $20,000 was raised. He said the group also receives support from several local government agencies including the city, R.M., and Flying Dust First Nation.
Dustin's father Gary said this weekend was very meaningful to him, as the grounds are where he got his start in the chuckwagon world 49 years ago. He said it might end up being one of the last races he runs in his hometown before he retires in the coming years.
“To have the boys with me, the fan support over the years, can’t say enough,” Gary said. “Dustin got the ball rolling, we had these two weekends off, so it worked out well.”
Gary's other son Logan said it was great to see many local rodeo athletes taking part.
“This town has been known as a rodeo and chuckwagon town, so trying to save this grandstand was a priority when we started hearing it,” Logan said. “It would be great to see concerts, drag races in here, in a new covered facility.”
Bill McDougall, a Lions Club member and event chair, said the fundraiser turned out better than anyone involved had anticipated. He said nearly 4,000 people attended the event from July 27-29, with more than 1,400 of coming out the first night.
Meadow Lake's city council made a motion at its June 11 meeting to defer any decisions about the grandstand until after meeting with partners.
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