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Ladies Aid to open Hand Hills Stampede

One of Hand Hills’ longest running institutions will be honoured at the opening of the 92nd Annual Hand Hills Lake Stampede. The Hand Hills Lake Stampede, Alberta’s oldest consecutive rodeo goes May 30 to June 1. The event is steeped in tradition and one of those is to honour one of their own to open the rodeo. This year it is the Hand Hills Ladies Aid. The group formed in 1928, then known as the Hand Hills United Church Ladies Aid. Some eighty years later, there are six active members. The president, Julie Lenfesty, will be the guest of honour and will officially open the show on Saturday May 31 at noon.

 

“It is quite an honour,” said Lenfesty, “I will be representing the Ladies Aid.” Current members include Jean McDonald as secretary treasurer, Irene Morton, Hilda Jackson, Ella Beck and Rosanna Lenfesty. The original purpose of the organization was to encourage growth in Christian knowledge, provide fellowship and Christian leadership. For many years it was responsible for funding the church’s building maintenance and paying the minister’s salary. Years later, after another community committee was formed to pay church expenses, the Ladies Aid remained active raising funds for about 26 separate charities and community groups. Some of the ways the group raised funds included rugs and quilt raffles, apron sales, bazaars, rummage sales, and catering for weddings dances and auction sales. For many years they organized and operated concession booths at the Hand Hills Lake Stampede. In 1980, the group backed the construction of a new Hand Hills club house and set about raising funds, one of the endeavour was a walkathon, which was a great success.

 

Another great undertaking by the Ladies Aid was the Millennium Project. The group diligently researched school, church and cemetery sites in the Hand Hills, and then commemorated them with permanent site markers placed at each location. While the Ladies Aid worked hard as a charitable organization, they also were a very social group. One thing Lenfesty cherishes the most is the camaraderie she shares with the other members. In 1928 they held their first of many collective Christmas concerts with contributors from the surrounding school districts. They also staged plays and held an annual talent show. The Ladies Aid has created a display of memorabilia that will be at the Hand Hills United Church on the Hand Hills Club Grounds, during the Stampede. It will be open for viewing on Saturday, May 31 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m., and on Sunday from 10a.m. to 4 p.m.


Bixbys play Friday The Hand Hills Lake Rodeo kicks of Friday, May 30 at noon with slack. According to organizer Blake Morton, one thing the Hand Hills Lake Stampede never is short of is competitors. The CPRA (Canadian Pro Rodeo Association) and PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association) sanctioned event features stock from the Calgary Stampede Ranch. Beer gardens open at 4 p.m. and then the All Pro Canadian Chuck Wagons and Chariots go at 7 p.m.
Dance the night away Friday night as the Bixby take the stage for the Friday night kick off party. The Rodeo goes at noon on Saturday, and Sunday, but it is not a bad idea to start the day with a western breakfast, served from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. During the rodeo the Stewart Sisters Hearts of the West trick riders will be entertaining. The chucks and chariots go at 7 p.m. On Saturday night the band Phoenix will headline the Cowboy’s Cabaret. On Sunday morning there is a Christian Cowboy’s Church Service at 10 a.m. After that the rodeo starts at noon followed by the chucks and chariots at 7 p.m.

 

For more information on the up close and personal rodeo, see www.handhills.ab.ca