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Weyburn had 'Epic Rider Pride' at big party

Weyburns Roughrider fans let their Rider Pride shine in green-and-white on Thursday evening at the Epic Rider Pride party, held at Jubilee Park featuring a wide variety of activities and appearances by special guests, including Gainer the Gopher and

Weyburns Roughrider fans let their Rider Pride shine in green-and-white on Thursday evening at the Epic Rider Pride party, held at Jubilee Park featuring a wide variety of activities and appearances by special guests, including Gainer the Gopher and Rider players.A crowd estimated by organizers at between 1,200 and 1,500 crowded into the park to see the Kick for Cash event, get autographs from Riders legend George Reed, hear entertainment and buy hot dogs served up by the Weyburn Minor Football Association.We felt it was a spectacular showing of Rider Pride, said Nicole Wendt, who with sister-in-law Rochelle Wendt has been the driving force behind Weyburn Rider Nation from the start of the contest.Thursday was also the day the Weyburn Rider Nation hosted the Riders selection committee and toured them around the city during the day before letting the community show its Rider Pride at the community event in the evening. As Weyburn was selected as one of five communities in Saskatchewan as a finalist in the Riders Where is Riderville? contest, the committee is visiting all five communities, and then voting on-line will take place from Aug. 13 to 31, with the winning community to be announced at the Roughriders Labour Day Classic game against Winnipeg.We toured a lot of the highlights around the city, and they liked what they saw. They thought it was a great example of Rider Pride, said Nicole, adding they appreciated the help they had at the Epic Rider Pride event, as well as the efforts of people to decorate their homes and businesses, and to dress up in green-and-white to show their Rider spirit.Asked for a personal highlight, she cited the Kick for Cash contest, for which five Rider fans were chosen to take part in a series of tests, with the last finalist attempting a 50-yard field goal in order to win a $10,000 cash prize.The final two contestants were Angela Bedore and Devan Haider, with Haider winning out to make the field goal attempt. As emcee Glenn Rogers noted, the kick was right down the middle, but unfortunately fell short of the goalposts. He still went home with a $1,000 gift certificate from New Age Electronics for his efforts.Afterwards, Haider said of the opportunity to compete, You cant be disappointed; it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be up there.For the entertainment of the fans, the Riders mascot, Gainer the Gopher, went up against Sparky, the Fire Departments mascot, in a kickoff.Brent Allin, president of Weyburn Minor Football, was very happy with the community support for the fundraising barbecue manned by players from the bantam football team, plus they had some concept drawings available about their proposed new football field.We got lots of questions and a lot of positive feedback about our plan. People are interested about the concept and what it takes bring such an idea to reality, said Allin, adding they received a lot of support for their concept.Mayor Debra Button, who was on hand to bring greetings from the city, was also duly impressed with the turnout and support at the event.I think the community did themselves proud. The amount of green-and-white was astounding, and showed how much Rider pride there is in the community. Certainly as the mayor, I had a real sense of pride, and people had a lot of fun there, she said.The mayor commented that the whole Rider Pride movement has been a very good thing for Weyburn since Weyburn Rider Nation got going this spring, and she paid tribute to Nicole and Rochelle Wendt and their volunteers for all the work theyve been doing to promote it.I think my favourite part was watching the community come together. I think its just a matter of time before the rest of the province sees that we are Riderville, she said, adding the prize money of $25,000 would be a good jump-start to making the proposed new football field a reality.Jeff Richards, manager of the Weyburn Chamber of Commerce, was one of the on-field helpers at the event, as he hosted Riders legend George Reed and helped with the autograph-signing session.I thought the party was great; it was a really good display of community support. It was just fantastic as far as I was concerned, he said.Noting he enjoyed spending time with Reed, he said the legendary player had a lot of good to say about the community event, as did the two current Rider players who came out and also signed autographs, Hugh Charles and Leron Mitchell.They were really impressed with the event. Charles, who is from the U.S., thought it was really something else, kind of like a college football atmosphere, said Richards.Meantime, with on-line voting set to start on Friday, Aug. 13, Nicole Wendt said the community needs to know the importance of keeping up the momentum sparked at events like the epic party, and suggested each person make sure to log in their vote once a day from both work and at home.Its important that people in the community contact friends and family who live outside of Weyburn and ask them for their support for Weyburn, and to go on-line to vote, said Nicole, adding she also urges people to visit the Weyburn Rider Nation website to see the videos and photos; there is also a link to the website where the voting takes place (which is at