Provincial Ex employee takes home national award

·5 min read

A Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba employee has taken home a national award for their support of the non-profit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Provincial Ex financial controller Rhonda Woytkiw walked away from the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions AGM in Regina with the 2021 Canadian Fair Champion Award. She said it was humbling to be honoured for her hard work and commitment to the organization during the global health crisis.

The pandemic has transformed life at the Province Exhibition, she said, as it has every other organization in Brandon.

“You have to adjust, adapt and be supportive in ways that we normally haven’t had to in the past,” she said.

Woytkiw first joined the Provincial Ex team three years ago and was able to spend a year with the organization before the COVID-19 pandemic.

She grew up on a family farm east of Brandon. Her family has been working on the land for 45 years and had an incredible experience growing up rural and in agriculture. She appreciates how working with Provincial Ex has reconnected her to the agriculture sector.

“It’s really interesting that I’ve come back to agriculture. It seems like getting back to your roots — it’s been amazing,” Woytkiw said.

Before the pandemic, Provincial Ex had a more robust team of staff with specific roles within the organization. Woytkiw said the non-profit is now in a situation where they have less staff taking on more responsibilities.

“The team has changed, the dynamics have changed. But the mission and the mandate remain the same. We just have to pull together and work as a team a lot more because there’s not just one specific role that you’re not doing, you’re doing many different roles,” Woytkiw said. “We have a really great organization and staff that allow us to a) do that, but to b) succeed at it.”

Woytkiw and other staff members with Provincial Ex have seen their roles with the organization transformed during COVID-19.

While her title may be financial controller, during the pandemic she has been wearing many hats within the organization.

“I feel like I’ve grown a lot in terms of appreciation for positions within the Provincial Exhibition,” Woytkiw said. “I’ve had to take on livestock officers. I’ve had to take on administration roles. I’ve had to take on management roles. All of us in the building have been very adaptable … where we just fill in the gaps.”

It has been a great experience in some ways because it has allowed her to dabble in many different positions and gain a new appreciation for the people on the Provincial Exhibition crew and the work they do.

Woytkiw added she is grateful for the support given by the Provincial Ex board, helping employees rise to the occasion and adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been a team effort.

“We certainly wouldn’t be where we are today without the dedication, the support and having the community and the directors believe in us on a daily basis.”

Staff at the Provincial Exhibition take pride in having an open and welcoming relationship with the community, she said, and they are diligently working to adapt to the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure these connections remain intact.

The united goal of everyone during the global health crisis has been ensuring the Dome Building can keep the lights on until large-scale events are allowed and they can welcome the community back to in-person events.

The organization takes pride in bringing people together with staple events including Ag Ex, the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair and the Manitoba Summer Fair.

However, these events have not been possible during the pandemic, limiting the organization’s ability to connect with the community and to fundraise.

These challenges have pushed the non-profit to take steps to ensure it remains connected with the community.

“We’ve done everything from drive-thru breakfasts, we’ve done wine fundraisers, we’ve done meat packs, we’ve done a drive-in movie and we are currently doing the Your Name in Stone campaign at the Dome.”

Provincial Ex is a registered charity and anyone who donates will receive a charitable receipt.

The organization is currently preparing for the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair in March.

“We’re just excited to see people come out and enjoy those pieces. Whatever that means — if you enjoy the hunter jumper show. If you enjoy the petting zoo. If you enjoy the trade show; there are many different things that are pieces together to bring an exciting event to everybody,” Woytkiw said.

Enthusiasm for in-person events is growing, she added. While it has been quiet at the Dome building since the start of the pandemic, live events are slowly returning.

“It’s been a long road getting here. But, we’re very optimistic and hopeful that things will start to become ... whatever the new normal will be,” Woytkiw said. “We’re excited.”

A long-term vision for the organization remains in place, she said, with the common goal of giving back to the community and the agricultural sector.

“We’ve had incredible support from many different people, corporations, organizations.

“We’re very grateful for everybody that has supported us.”

» ckemp@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @The_ChelseaKemp

Chelsea Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun

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