The Hub at the Stettler Recreation Centre was abuzz with conversation as more than a hundred people gathered for the P&H Elevator Preservation Society’s annual Christmas dinner.
The Saturday, Jan. 9 event takes place in January due to the busy schedule of both organizers and guests during December, as schools, churches, and other organizations celebrate the holidays, society member Donna Langille explained.
“It’s just too busy in December,” she said. “We’re thinking of changing the name and theme.”
In fact, each table had cards set up asking guests to make recommendations for next year’s January dinner, both in name and theme. The cards would be collected at the end of the night and reviewed later by the society’s board when thinking ahead for next year.
The event got off to a slightly late start, as more than the anticipated number of guests showed up. By the registration deadline less than a hundred people had registered, but on the night of, roughly 120 showed up.
“It’s hard to tell how many people we’ll have, this close to December,” Langille said. “It changes every year.”
After a quick rush to get more plates and cutlery, the buffet dinner — with chicken, ham, potatoes and salads — was opened to guests. The complimentary bar saw action, as did the sale of 50/50 tickets. A wide selection of door prizes were available for guests to win throughout the night.
Each year, the society holds three major fundraisers, usually the Christmas dinner in January, a pancake breakfast at the end of May and fall supper at the end of August making up the rest. The money raised at these events goes toward the preservation of the P&H elevator in downtown Stettler as well as the development of programs and events at the building.
One of the salads, a wheat salad, was made from wheat thrashed at an event this past autumn at the elevator, Stan Eichorn explained.
He noted the events the elevator society hold are popular, bringing in people from all across the province. That night in particular, people had come from as far away as Drumheller and Strome to come and enjoy the dinner.
Over the decades, the organization has saved the old Parrish and Heimbecker elevator from the ravages of weather and time. Purchased in 2004 from P&H, the elevator has since been cleaned, the coal shed restored, metal siding on the feed mill repaired, and a coffee shop opened. Walls have been repaired and painted, roofs have been repaired, as have floors and other parts of the elevator and attached facility.
School tours bring children through every year, showing them how the elevator used to run and how grain was weighed and shipped by rail.
Projects last year saw the installation of a fire alarm and security system and a mural painting on the Little Giant shed. Plans for 2016 include working on the feed shed addition.