UNITY — With Unity’s 40th anniversary of Western Days approaching, it has been interesting to reflect on the history of a mainstay building at the Unity Fairgrounds, the Agroplex.
It is a commonly used venue, more often in the summer months. There is often little thought given to how convenient and useful locations in town came to be.
The Agroplex has a great back story, as the building was entirely constructed by volunteers and funded by volunteers and volunteer community organizations. Without their commitment, this building and all that it offers would not exist.
Discussions began in early 1991 about building a venue on the sports grounds, otherwise known as the rodeo grounds. Quotes were received and on March 14, 1991, a motion was made to construct a 50 x100 arch rib building, using volunteer labour at the approximate cost of $30,000, which included concrete. Everything was approved.
The ground was leveled March 17 of 1991 and April 6, the foundation was laid with the volunteer help of 22 people. April 20, the rafters went up and the building was up and ready for Western Days in June of 1991.
This dream-to-reality building started with an idea and ended with the building opening within just six months of the initial idea being presented, with volunteers wasting no time seeing their vision come to fruition.
Work party after work party ensued and the task at hand was undertaken quickly and efficiently. Those participating in the construction of the Agroplex ranged from students to pensioners. Equipment was lent to the work party and once people saw the building starting to take shape, they wanted to be part of its completion.
At the time, the growing work parties were marvelled at as well as celebrated for their “get ‘er done” mindset.
A grand opening was booked for Aug. 9, 1991, with the Ackerman band booked and all those who donated money were invited to attend. A “name the building”’ contest was held, and the sign was put up in 1993.
The Agroplex continued to evolve with more work being done to make it a year-round facility.
In July of 1993, discussion began about additions to the Agropelx which would include bathrooms and a kitchen. Sewer service was connected to the building in August of 1993.
Nov. 3, 1993, a motion was made to insolate and Gyproc the inside, with the work completed in 1994.
Bathrooms and kitchen renovations were completed in 1996 as there were initially power and picnic tables inside, with bathrooms originally provided outside in a different building.
Electrified RV sites were added in 2014 and they have been well received for those hosting events at the Agroplex and a big boost to RV options for big ball tournaments in town.
A new roof was put on the building in 2014 as well as the interior was painted. This was funded in part by a grant received from the Community Initiatives Fund. The matching grant of $20,000 was possible as $10,000 was put in by the Unity Ag. Society and another $10,000 was contributed by the Unity Western Days Committee.
Unity Western Days committee has committed other funding over the years including new tables, a stage and other additions
The multi-functional building is used for family reunions, anniversaries, weddings, auction sales, Ag Safety Education Day as well as it’s regular role in Western Days events. It is the second-largest hall in Unity.
Out of 52 weeks a year, this venue is rented out for almost half of those weeks.
Unity’s Ag Society, a volunteer-run community organization, is solely responsible for maintenance and bookings of this facility, all done by volunteers.
The club has undertaken many fundraisers to pay for the ongoing maintenance and work at the Aroplex and have also been grateful for donations from clubs and organizations in the community, as well as grant money.
“We often attend activities at this community hall location and don’t give a second thought as to how it came to be or who has helped fund or enhance the building,” one Unity resident notes.
“Once we learned of its remarkable story, we have gained a new appreciation for not only the Agroplex itself but for all those who worked collaboratively to make this happen. Yet another reason to appreciate Unity’s volunteers and volunteer organisations.”
People have commented that they hadn’t realized the volunteer component involved with the Agroplex but are now even more appreciative of this community venue.
“The Agroplex, talk about Community spirit,” Mayor Sharon Del Frari says.
“There was a need identified so residents from town and area got together to make the dream a reality. Not only did they fundraise to cover construction but over the years they have continued to maintain and update the facility. People come from far and wide to enjoy Rodeo Days, plus weddings and family reunions, utilizing this location. For years, the Agroplex was home to many auctions before the online experience took over. Since its inception, many volunteers have contributed to the success of this venture. On behalf of the town of Unity, thank you to each and every one of you for what you have given us.”