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Young Fellows still going strong a century later

Special concert “represents one of the largest undertakings in the history of the Young Fellows Club, and serves to mark not just the end of our first century of service, but the beginning of our next.”

WEYBURN -  The Young Fellows Club, a service organization dedicated to making Weyburn a better place, spent the last half of its century-long life continuing to be strong and make significant contributions to the city and area.

At the club’s 75th anniversary, the total of their donations was just under $1 million (reaching that point on March 11, 1999) and reached just under $2 million by the 90th anniversary, sitting at over $2.5 million as they celebrated their centennial.

The Radio Auction, which began in 1958, turned into the TV Auction in 1979, and in 2008 it became the Internet Auction, which hit over $70,000 in 2019, and this year it raised over $80,000, exceeding their goal.

When the club hit the milestone in 2019, it was celebrated with the shaving of heads by the president and auction committee at Barber Motors.

The club embraced technology as it developed and became more available, with their newsletters going to members via email starting in 2003. More recently, the Young Fellows brought in a mobile tool for debit and credit card payments at the tree lot and auction, and other projects.

The TV Bingo fundraiser started up in 1984, and it ran for 31 years before the decision was made to discontinue it.

The Christmas tree lot continued on, moving to the lot north of the Co-op food store in 1987, where it remains today with a new clubhouse on the location. The former tree shack was sold to the local snowmobile club for their use.

In the years through the 80s and 90s, the Young Fellows put their donations to a wide variety of projects, including completing the back nine holes at the Weyburn Golf Course; the indoor pool; equipment purchases for the Weyburn hospital; contributing to the second ice surface, the Tom Zandee Sports Arena; purchasing a rescue vehicle; contributing to the children’s swim program; and sponsoring minor ball, minor hockey and Silver Seals projects.

The Young Fellows became pit roast specialists, feeding up to 1,500 people at the Oil Show, for Grad suppers, Red Wings reunions and other community events.

Following the historic tradition of building the province’s first public swimming pool at the height of the Depression, the club made a $150,000 pledge to help build Weyburn’s first spray park at the Don Mitchell Tot Lot on Coteau Avenue. The spray park was opened in June of 2007.

A one-time project was to host the RCMP Musical Ride, raising $20,000 for the club, while other projects ran successfully for a number of years, such as comedy nights and the Harvest Fling. The Fling changed into the Flavours of Fall food and drink festival.

A promise made in the club’s early years, by former president Mo Fladager, was to donate an average of $5 a day, one they kept for the first 35 years of operation. This increased to $11 a day by their 60th anniversary, $34 a day by their 75th year, $59.61 by the 90th anniversary, and by this year it’s reached $65.05 a day, with a promise that will go higher this summer.

A new project begun in 2020 was a firewood wholesaling operation, which has also proven to be quite successful, raising $15,000.

The COVID pandemic hit the Young Fellows Club as it has all organizations, forcing the cancellation of major events, including a major sports dinner and comedy night.

Three meetings were cancelled due to lockdowns, the first time this had happened since the Second World War when the club was suspended. The club began to meet virtually, including for club elections, but members stepped and helped out anytime they were able to, such as helping at grocery stores.

Coming out of COVID, the Young Fellows brought in an initially smaller number of trees for the tree lot, and they sold 100 trees on the first day and the supply dwindled down over the next few days, prompting them to bring in 50 more trees. The club ended up making $10,802 from that sale.

As meetings resumed in person again, attendance hit record levels, and for their centennial year, the club felt it was appropriate to involve the entire community in their centennial celebrations.

The major event for this is the centennial concert in Jubilee Park on June 30, featuring the Hunter Brothers, Weyburn’s own Tenille Arts and band, and local performers Dan Cugnet and Brayden King as the opening acts.

The Weyburn Chamber of Commerce also scheduled the annual parade for the same day, with the Young Fellows as the parade marshalls.

As the club stated in their history for the centennial, the concert “represents one of the largest undertakings in the history of the Young Fellows Club, and serves to mark not just the end of our first century of service, but the beginning of our next.”