Grand River Raceway, the Grand River Agricultural Society and the OLG Slots at Grand River celebrated its five year anniversary on Dec. 6.
The celebration included a full day of festivities and an anniversary party in the Lighthouse Restaurant. The afternoon included speeches from society president Paul Walker, raceway General Manager Dr. Ted Clarke, and Centre Wellington Mayor Joanne Ross-Zuj.
Among the 150 guests were representatives from the Rotary Club Of Fergus-Elora, which first partnered with Grand River Raceway in May of 2004 for its monthly bingo fundraisers.
To date, those bingos have raised over $300,000 for the Groves Hospital redevelopment campaign and Centre Wellington Sportsplex in Fergus.
Past recipients of the society’s bursary and scholarship program were on-hand to mark the occasion. Since 2006, the agricultural society has awarded $30,000 to local students who are entering or enrolled in college or university agricultural programs.
With more than three million visits since opening, Grand River Raceway has contributed $9-million in non-tax gaming revenue to the local municipality. The facility employs more than 250 people with an annual payroll of $1.9-million.
The racing operation has paid more than $31-million in purses to race participants since the operation’s inception. Purses fuel the harness racing business, which is the third-largest sector of the province’s agricultural economy in terms of expenditures.
Grand River Raceway officially opened its doors on Dec. 6, 2003 after relocating from the now defunct Elmira Raceway. The $30-million facility, located in Elora, hosted its first day of racing on April 26, 2004.
Grand River Raceway is owned and operated by the Grand River Agricultural Society – a not-for-profit corporation incorporated under the Agricultural Societies Act of Ontario, and operated by a volunteer board of directors.