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PHOTO/IMAGE COURTESY:John Kinnear
Kathy Rast shows one of the homemade delicacies up for bid at the Maycroft Hall fundraiser. The pie auction brought in more than $2,600.
November 9, 2022

Rooted in colourful past, good times endure at Maycroft

John Kinnear
Shootin’ the Breeze Contributor
Maycroft residents and guests enjoyed a night of dining, dancing and singing, topped off with a pie auction, at a fundraiser for the community hall.

Eighty-four years ago, back in 1938, the good people in and around the Maycroft area decided to build themselves a hall. In typical old-fashioned country tradition, land was donated by George Heaton, lumber came from a sawmill on the Dennis Ranch and hardware (building supplies) came from Art Densmore’s Lundbreck Trading.

Pretty much everyone north of Lundbreck and Cowley pitched in every chance they could to make it happen and, true to fashion, they did.

The hall had its first concert in 1939, and used to hold three or four concerts a year. The kids from nearby Maycroft School also held their Christmas concerts there.

According to longtime supporter Ida Dennis, in the early days the ranchers used to sort their cows (sometimes 800-plus) in the fall at the hall area until corrals were built in the Gap.

The whole idea of events at the hall was always to support the Christmas concert and to maintain and improve the place.

Ida says, “They also put on dances where the ladies made a special lunch box, which would then be auctioned off. The one who brought the most money usually had a bottle of beer in it! The buyer would share the lunch with the lady who made it.”

A few additions have been made over the years. In the early days there was a wood stove to make coffee on, and lighting was with Coleman gas lamps until they got electricity in 1960.

For the longest time, Ida says, there was no bar inside and the dances were known to get pretty rough, with lots of “fightin’ and drinkin’ outside.” Apparently local residents would appear in the afternoon and hide their bottles in gopher holes for later in the evening, “so they could step out with a buddy for a little snort.”

Ida recalls that some of the gals would sneak out and move the bottles to different holes just to see the cowboys’ reaction.

Kathy Rast, organizer of the annual fundraiser for Maycroft Hall, says there used to be spring and fall dances, which eventually morphed into the more popular annual supper and concert. This has been going on since 2010 and it is just an awful lot of fun, which includes their now famous pie auctions.

Last Saturday, Maycroft Hall rolled out the carpet for area residents to dine and dance, and to support the hall by getting into crazy bidding wars for specialty pies created for the event.

Through the years, Kathy says, they have raised $64,252.58 with the pie and roast auctions. With this kind of support, the hall committee has replaced the hardwood dance floor and has installed new siding (inside and out), new windows in the entire hall, hot water on demand, natural gas hookups and, recently, Wi-Fi connections.

This year the auction was zany as usual, with auctioneer Dylan Bates skilfully extracting over $2,600 from the pockets of the always-supportive locals. The standing record at the hall is $2,100 paid for one pie some years ago, which was bought and re-donated several times.

Group of men sing along with the band
Photo by John Kinnear
Whether it was on the dancefloor or singing on stage with the Suds, a great time was had by all in attendance Saturday at this year’s fundraiser for the Maycroft Hall.

Many well-known musical groups have played for this annual event, including John Wort Hannam, the Travelling Mabels, Prairie JusTus, Wailback and Juno-nominated Del Barber.

This year it was an entertaining and engaging pair of musicians known as Suds. These versatile, interactive musicians filled the dance floor with line dancers in a hilarious training session, and then loaded the stage, with groups of guys and gals separately, in singalongs to well-known songs.

And so the tradition of fundraising for Maycroft will continue, with ranchers willingly getting their wallets fleeced and everyone having just a darn good time.

Ladies line dancing
Photo by John Kinnear
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