The outlook for Benalto Agricultural Society in 2014 is positive, according to Neal Arksey, who was re-elected president during the society’s annual general meeting last Friday night.
About 20 people attended the meeting, which also saw Ken Vick and Craig Kentz returned as first vice president and second vice president, respectively.
A mixture of both new and familiar faces make up the society’s 14 directors — a group of people Arksey is excited about working with.
“We have some new people that came onto our board, (with) fresh, new ideas, which we always need,” he said. “We’re always open to that.”
The society’s financials were also approved at the meeting, and revealed little change from previous years.
Arksey said some money was made through Benalto Pro Rodeo — the society’s main event — but not much over last year.
“If we break even at it, we’re pretty happy,” he said.
Preparations for the 97th rodeo are already underway, with sponsorship packages currently being compiled and distributed.
The society sponsors and works alongside several groups and organizations in the area, including Shadow Riders 4-H Club and Medicine River Pony Club.
Club members who participate in work days help the society “tremendously”, according to Arksey.
“It’s a good core of people willing to chip in,” he said.
The society’s venues are becoming increasingly popular, and host a large variety of events, ranging from horse clinics to family reunions, he added.
“It’s getting busier and busier out here. We’re getting a little more well known.”
Camping stalls and other facilities have also proved popular in recent years, and have even attracted people visiting nearby places such as Sylvan Lake and Red Deer.
“We are definitely getting more bookings,” said Arksey. “Every weekend is getting pretty busy.”
Despite plenty of out-of-town visitors making use of facilities in Benalto, the society remains community-oriented, he added.
The distribution of up-to-date communications via means such as the society’s website allows members to increase awareness of the society beyond Benalto.
“People are becoming more aware of what we’re doing,” said Arksey.