Rosthern Winter Festival wraps up winter

Carol Baldwin / LJI Reporter / Wakaw Recorder. Learning to plate spin at Rosthern Winter Festival.

Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wakaw Recorder

The last ‘official’ weekend of winter was a celebration for people in and around Rosthern. The annual Winter Festival kicked off with a pancake breakfast at the Jubilee Sports Centre. The U15 Girls Valley Vipers Softball team served up both the pancake breakfast and a Ukrainian supper for the two-person bonspiel. This is the main fundraiser for the team and the support of the community means a great deal to everyone. 

Although the wind reminded all that winter was not finished yet, the weather enticed the young and old to come out for the afternoon’s activities. During the morning, the arena rang with the sounds of the up-and-coming hockey kids as they participated in the Future Stars Hockey Skills Competition before the ice was turned over to the shinny players from 12 – 3 pm. Activities on the skating ice wrapped up with glow skating from 3 – 5 pm. In the lobby of the arena, kids could have their faces painted, colour pictures, and even try their skill at plate spinning and different circus manipulation tricks. Outdoors a bonfire offered the opportunity to make s’mores and enjoy some hot chocolate.

The Rosthern Agricultural Society partnered with the town to bring horse-drawn wagon rides to the festival. Funding through the Sask Lotteries Community Grant Program for Sport, Culture & Recreation helped the town to host the festival free of charge for participants, aside from the fundraising funspiel. Community sponsors for the festival included local businesses as well as provincial crown corporations SaskTel and SaskEnergy

Sask Lotteries is celebrating 50 years as the main fundraiser for more than 12,000 sport, culture, and recreation groups in communities across Saskatchewan. Proceeds from the sale of every lottery product purchased through Sask Lotteries positively impact sport, culture, and recreation groups across the province. These groups support a wide range of activities and promote opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to play, create, and grow.

To help fundraise against the rising costs of amateur sport, Sask Sport, which was incorporated in 1972 and volunteer-led, wanted to run a lottery. To be granted the lottery license in the province by the Government of Saskatchewan, founding volunteers Cas Pielak and Joe Kanuka agreed to sign a promissory note to help start a lottery fundraising program. The tickets for that first lottery called ‘Saskatchewan Sweetstakes’ began being sold on Sept. 1, 1973, for a draw to be held on Jan. 3, 1974. The ‘Sweetstakes’ tickets sold for $1 a ticket and provided a chance of winning cash prizes totaling $100,000. The ‘Saskatchewan Sweetstakes’ lottery was a success and resulted in a total of $197,443 being raised which was then split between sport, culture, and recreation groups.

During this time, the Saskatchewan government finalized a deal with Alberta, Manitoba, and British Columbia. to form the Western Canada Lottery Foundation, now called the Western Canada Lottery Corporation. It was determined that the funds raised through the lotteries would be placed into the Sask Lotteries Trust Fund and would be distributed to sport, culture, and recreation groups as designated by the Government of Saskatchewan.

Almost 50 years later, this arrangement remains. Every year, approximately 1,200 organizations throughout the province receive direct funding support from the sale of Sask Lotteries, and people, both young and old, in communities near and far, get to enjoy sports and recreational activities that they might not be able to do otherwise.