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Pictured at the Madden and District Agricultural Society’s Madden Community Centre, from left: Alberta Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation RJ Sigurdson, Society board members Janice Eckstrand, Dustin Helm and Jaime Clayton, Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Nathan Cooper.

In the coming years, the Province will give not-for-profit, non-governmental ag societies across Alberta much needed help to address aging infrastructure. The 291 ag societies own and operate more than 900 facilities. These local landmarks include hockey and curling rinks, equestrian arenas, rodeo grounds and community halls. The existing value of this infrastructure totals more than $1.1 billion, said Tim Carson, chief executive officer for the Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies (AAAS).

Launched in October 2023, the Agricultural Societies Infrastructure Revitalization Program will allocate $2.5 million annually for another two years in financial assistance. Funds can be applied to upgrades that will extend the life of existing buildings and additional infrastructure, with the ag society responsible for 20 per cent of the project’s cost. Individual projects are eligible to receive between $10,000 and $100,000, and grant money may be used to address health and safety issues, improve functionality or service delivery and reduce operating costs. Such projects may include enhancement of building accessibility or address maintenance issues such as roof repairs and upgrades to heating and cooling systems and windows. Additional work may include improvements to dressing rooms, bathrooms and commercial kitchens, the addition of accessible doors and ramps, as well as large-scale renovations of grandstands and rodeo grounds.

AAAS was formed in 1905, and many of its ag society member organizations have served their communities for decades. Several were established in 1879, more than a quarter century before Alberta joined Confederation. Carson noted 20 societies are at least 100 years old and 34 celebrated their 50th anniversaries in 2022. The facilities operated by these organizations are important gathering places and event spaces, and they play an important role in the mental and physical health of rural and agricultural community members, said Carson. “The trade shows, the farmers’ markets, baby showers and funerals, all of these things keep us connected from cradle to grave, and this is what our agricultural societies are meant to do.” More than 37,000 activities and events are held at these facilities annually.

Though always of high priority to the AAAS, added Carson, maintenance and facility improvements are expensive and difficult to co-ordinate. The grant program will allow member facilities to remain open and accessible and for individual societies to respond to the changing needs of their communities.

Where there is provincial support, individuals, organizations and businesses have also contributed to these projects, said Ashley Stevenson, Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation press secretary. “In many cases agricultural society volunteers and local businesses have stepped up to provide additional in-kind support and donations including general labourers, welding, skid steers, tractors and trucks and trailers as needed.”

The program’s first application period ended in February and was fully subscribed well ahead of its closing date. This is an obvious sign the program is much needed, said Carson. “It is a tremendous step forward. It’s now up to our societies and the province to continue to work together to ensure that these communities thrive into the future.” In total, 34 societies were approved to receive funding support. The 2024-25 round of funding opens April 1.

For more information on the AAAS, visit and for grant program details, visit


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