One of Grande Prairie’s iconic long-time facilities, thanks in large part to the Government of Alberta and County of Grande Prairie, is in the midst of a major transformation.

Lewis Hawkes Pavilion, which turns 50 in 2022, will look better than it ever has when the job is completed.

“It was just a tired, worn building that has an absolute strong foundation,” said Evergreen Park General Manager Dan Gorman. “We are doing everything from improving the lighting significantly; re-tinning the inside and outside; new washrooms; new bleachers; new entrance; new ventilation system; new sound system and more.”

Plans are to also add a lounge area, box office, announcer booth and kitchen/concession.

“It is a complete makeover,” said Gorman. “We are very pleased to offer this renovated facility to the public.”

The makeover comes with a price tag of almost $1M, with almost half of that coming from the Government of Alberta through the Community Facility Enhancement program for non-profits. Evergreen Park is under the umbrella of the Grande Prairie Regional Agricultural & Exhibition Society – one of the longest non-profit organizations in the Peace Country having been formed in 1910.

 “The Government of Alberta grant was for about $430,000 and we have to come up with matching funds for that,” said Gorman. “I want to thank the Alberta government for helping us work on something like this during a pandemic.”

The County has provided a good portion of the matching grant funds needed.

“I want to also thank the County for its continued financial support,” said Gorman.

He said the Lewis Hawkes renovation will help Evergreen Park improve the grounds and to employ more people. The renovation will mean more events for the Lewis Hawkes.

Gorman says the Lewis Hawkes renovation should have the same impact, or even more, as the complete makeover to the Clarkson Hall several years ago. That building went from one or two events per year to dozens today.

The Pavilion will continue to have a few all-season horse stalls and dirt riding arena, but the renovation and increased bleacher seating capacity, will make it more attractive for a variety of events beyond the normal 4-H, bovine and equine activities it was hosting. The bleachers and stalls are moveable so more floor space could be made available for a larger event.

The building was first located at the old fairgrounds on the east side of the City of Grande Prairie and then moved south to the current Evergreen Park location in 1982.