Small group makes a big difference

The passion of a group dedicated to promoting the Summerland Rodeo Grounds more than makes up for their lack of numbers.

Members of the SRGEDC took part in the Action Festival parade earlier this year. including director Jessica McDiarmid

Members of the SRGEDC took part in the Action Festival parade earlier this year. including director Jessica McDiarmid

The passion of a group dedicated to promoting the Summerland Rodeo Grounds more than makes up for  their lack of numbers.

“We are literally a handful of people out there, sweating away,” said Gwen Shaw, president of the Summerland Rodeo Grounds Equine Development Committee (SRGEDC).

“We just love the rodeo grounds.”

The SRGEDC, a registered charity, is made up of a very small group of volunteers. While their passion for horses unites them, they are motivated by their love for Summerland and the rodeo grounds. Their mission is to promote, improve and maintain the grounds and help make it a viable enterprise for the city.

“Summerland Rodeo Grounds is an excellent place, not only for the equine community, but just for the community in general to have,” said Sheral Marten, the committee’s secretary.

“We wanted our kids to have something to do,” explained Karen Grosch, one of the directors. “It’s a safe rewarding thing to do and even to have the kids involved in volunteering was nice, so they learn early the rewards of volunteering.”

Since its beginning in 2007, SRGEDC have shown their commitment to the Rodeo grounds through successful fundraising events, including the horse shows that they host. They have worked with various community groups to partner in development and in 2013 they built new stalls at the grounds.

Even though dubbed “Rodeo grounds” it turns out that the ground in the arena is not even adequate or suitable for such events as a rodeo or barrel racing.

“It’s too hard on the horse’s feet and legs,” said Grosch.

Shaw further explained that to have horses run on the existing ground, puts the horses’ health at risk and could cripple them. As a result many groups have no interest in using the Summerland Rodeo grounds. It is for this reason that the SRGEDC has been working hand in hand with the city, to jointly fund the redoing of the footings in the main arena. SRGEDC is currently doing further research into the best sand to use.

“Some sand will get compacted and hard, other sand will keep soft,” Shaw explained. “We’re trying to find that happy medium that will please both the western riders and the English riders.”

The footings improvement project and the installation of new kitchen equipment, that SRGEDC has already purchased and some landscaping behind the clubhouse, are all scheduled to be done over the next year.

“Our long term goal is to have a covered arena,” said Shaw. “It would open up yearlong riding. Then we’d get the bookings! Can you imagine what that would bring to Summerland financially?”

“In the winter you’d be surprised at how many people can’t ride,” said Grosch. “If you had a cover so the ground was not frozen or slippery and no snow or ice … people would pay a fee to go riding there.”

The possibility of using the arena for fairs or markets would also open up, so Shaw dreams about getting one or two good investors involved to help achieve this goal.

The SRGEDC is always in need of more volunteers.

“You don’t need to know anything about a horse to volunteer,” said Marten. “We need volunteers who know how to build things, prepare food, run the concessions, how to landscape…tons of stuff!”

In the meantime this small band of volunteers plans on continuing to get the word out about the Rodeo grounds.

“We’re forever handing out pamphlets…and that comes out of our own budget,” said Grosch. “In the long run it benefits the city of Summerland, the city financially and the community because they have a place to go.”

The Rodeo grounds has also been used for the Blue Grass festival, sporting events and private functions such as weddings and family reunions.

“Absolutely everything we do, is to benefit the grounds, which in turn generates more income for them (the city)”, concluded Shaw.

If you would like to contribute to the fundraising efforts of this dedicated group, plan on attending their upcoming fundraiser, The Summerland Stomp. This country and western dance will feature a live band, a saloon served by the Kinsmen and a 50/50 draw. It will be held at the Rodeo grounds on Saturday, July 11 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the Country Corner and at Sweetgrass  in Kaleden. For more information contact the Red Barn Ranch at 250-494-8198.