Local legend Danny Hooper kept everyone howling with hilarity during his emcee duties.
September 24th, 1963 was a momentous day in the history of this area as it was on that day Municipal District of Leduc No. 75 and the Leduc School Division No. 49 joined forces and became the County of Leduc No. 25. Fifty years later it was time to celebrate that fact.
During those fifty years Leduc County has grown exponentially. This county which covers just over 660,000 acres encompasses a population of 13,541 residents and a wide variety of industries which were started from the ground up and have expanded to meet the needs of our quickly growing population. The Genesee Power Plant first started production in 1989, has experienced several expansions since that time and now covers 17,920 acres of land. The Edmonton International Airport officially began passenger service in 1960 with the original terminal being erected in 1963. In 1972 the Sparrow brothers purchased 80 acres of land near the hamlet called Nisku and began marketing the land to become a new industrial park. Now Nisku is known around the world as a hub for oil related services and has become one of the largest industrial parks in North America. Of the two industries that started the Leduc area onto the road to becoming its own County, oil production has drastically slowed down since that time but agriculture is still a vibrant and critical industry within Leduc County.
In order to celebrate all the fantastic aspects of this diverse area Leduc County put together an amazing party on July 26th that was held at the Leduc West Antique Society grounds that honoured the past, present, and future of the county.
It was estimated that more than 2,000 people came through the gates that afternoon to commemorate this important day in Leduc County's history.
It truly was an incredible event with non-stop entertainment of all sorts running continuously all afternoon. The celebration was officially opened with a large number of local dignitaries present including MLA's George Rogers and Diana McQueen, as well as numerous Mayors from around the region taking to the large outdoor stage and congratulating Leduc County on their landmark anniversary. Leduc County Mayor John Whaley stated during his speech that, "We are very fortunate to live here. We have all the best of everything in this part of the world."
Edmonton-Leduc MP James Rajotte commented to county residents that, “As you face the challenges and growth, just make sure you remain as open as you always have been and make sure you remain as dynamic and diverse as you always have been.”
Music could be heard in every corner of the grounds as artists such as Brendan Guy, Joanne Janzen, Tiffany Dowhan, and Duane Steele entertained the crowds in the bleachers on the outdoor stage and the Old Tyme Airs played while the Sandholme Square Dancers twirled around inside the Hooper Building. The organizing committee also scored a real coup in getting Danny Hooper to emcee the event. Mr. Hooper kept everyone in stitches with his homespun and sarcastic brand of humour as he mercilessly teased politicians and artists alike as he introduced each one.
A fabulous beef on a bun dinner was served to one and all by Pure Country Catering and free pop and water were available to everyone as needed.
The next generation in Leduc County were kept entertained by Thistle Hill petting Zoo where even country kids who are used to being around furred and feathered friends were excited by the chance to pet a wallaby. The bouncy house is always a winner with the wee ones and the miniature "train" that fit exactly one child per car continuously chugged around the grounds full of smiling faces, and face painting, glitter tattoos, and balloons were the must-have items for all the youngsters.
For the bigger folk there were free bumper stickers handed out by County staff that stated "If you ate today thank a farmer", a photo history of Leduc County spread throughout the Hooper Building, and a wonderfully produced and very touching video montage of residents expressing what Leduc County means to them and sharing their remembrances of some pieces of the past both public and personal was played several times over the course of the evening. A commemorative quilt made by Bonnie Miller of Daisy Quilts with the picture taDanny Hooper, Leduc County Anniversary,ken from the official Leduc County 50th Anniversary painting by Jeanine McIntosh was auctioned off at the end of the day but everyone who came to the celebration was gifted with a specially produced newspaper for the event and a commemorative card set featuring the painting.
For the entire afternoon access to the grounds, all the events, entertainment, food and commemorative items were entirely free of charge thanks to the many sponsors and donors that assisted Leduc County in putting on this most excellent celebration. It was wonderful to see people of all ages and every walk of life around the county come together to celebrate living in an area that one of our County Councillors, quite accurately I think, calls "God's Country."
Congratulations to one and all on the first fifty years of what will hopefully just be the start to a long and successful future for Leduc County.