Posted on 16 May 2012 by Keith Lacey
It’s going to take full community support to bring Desert Park in Osoyoos back to its former glory days as a top-notch horse racing and training facility and public venue, but momentum is building in a very positive way, says the interim president of the Desert Park Exhibition Society.
Carol Youngberg said a combination of committed current members, strong support from the current town council and business community and a new push to sell 400 annual memberships to the society has a lot of people excited.
“The biggest difference now is we’re not running this place as a money-making venture, but as a community facility that benefits all of the people in the Town of Osoyoos,” said Youngberg, who has accepted the position of interim president of the Desert Park Exhibition Society.
“We need the entire community to not only use this facility, but support our fundraising ventures and come out to the events we have planned.”
A public meeting held early last week drew close to 30 people, which is encouraging, said Youngberg.
A total of 39 people have become “chartered members” of the society by paying $1,000 membership fees for 2012. Those members will be able to run for the board of directors when the next annual general meeting is held, said Youngberg.
The society recently received its non-profit status and is in the process of finalizing the paperwork needed to become a charitable organization that is able to apply for and access provincial and federal funding, said Youngberg.
The main goal for the remainder of 2012 is to clean up the facility as much as possible, said Youngberg.
Members of the public who wish to donate their time are being invited to participate in a full-scale community cleanup of the Desert Park site on Saturday, June 9, said Youngberg.
“Our main objective for this summer and the rest of this year is to get the facility looking great,” she said.
“In order for us to apply for seed money for some small projects we would like to get done later in 2012, the board feels cleaning up the facility should be our major priority.
“We want the place looking great before the end of the year so we can run some major events in 2013.”
Three organizations have approached the society board about hosting events at Desert Park, including one interested in promoting a small concert and another interested in hosting a car show, she said.
“They are interested for later this summer and we’re still trying to work out the details,” she said. “The one organization would like to host a concert this fall, but we’re not holding our breath on that one because we have a lot of work to do.
“But the good news is these organizations want to use our facility.”
The society is continuing with plans to host two major horse racing events sometime in the spring and summer of 2013, said Youngberg.
“First and foremost, Desert Park is a horse racing facility and we really want to bring the races back to Osoyoos,” she said.
“But we know we must meet certain track conditions and upgrade our facilities in order for that to happen, so that remains a big focus for this year. We need to get this place looking as good as we possibly can so we can start bringing in major events right away next year.”
The society is also working to get its new website operational within the next couple of weeks, said Youngberg.
The current town council and members of the town’s public works department have been very supportive and co-operative over the past few months as the society finalized its plan to revitalize Desert Park, she said.
“We’re working very well with the town and its staff and we all seem to be pulling in the same direction,” she said. “I think everyone realizes what a benefit it would be to this town to have an active and successful Desert Park.”
The society is planning a major fundraising dinner for this October and another fundraising event at Desert Park next April, she said.
The money accumulated by memberships will be used to pay the regular monthly bills, so all the work being done to upgrade and clean up the facility is being done by board members and dedicated volunteers, she said.
“The amount of volunteer support has been amazing,” she said.
Almost two dozen general memberships have been sold at $20 apiece in the last 10 days, said Youngberg.
A corporate membership drive also continues with a platinum membership going for $500, a gold membership for $300 and $200 for a general use membership. Horse stalls can be rented for $120 per month or $20 per day. Anyone wanting to purchase a membership or get more information is asked to contact Youngberg at www.desertparkbc.com or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org