Historic O’Keefe Ranch transition manager Sherrilee Franks is delighted with the way 2018 has begun, and hopes to continue the successes with a big Father’s Day event Sunday. (Roger Knox/Morning Star)

Spallumcheen’s O’Keefe Ranch hosting big Father’s Day gathering

Historic attraction continues on road to viability and sustainability under new model

If Father’s Day is as successful as Mother’s Day, the smiles among management at O’Keefe Ranch will be big.

Events Sunday to honour dad at the popular attraction run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., featuring a $6 pancake breakfast, barbecue lunch, nine-hole mini golf, horseshoes tournament, old-fashioned games, pony and tractor clubs and a Pioneer Power Club parade.

There will also be live music, a family photo booth that includes some of the ranch’s celebrity farm animals, kids crafts, resident artisans and local cideries and breweries at the ranch for tastings.

“Our opening (for the year) on Mother’s Day, which is our annual opening, was absolutely fantastic. We brought in $1,100 over last year’s opening day,” said Sherrilee Franks, who has the task of being the ranch’s transition manager, in place until Dec. 1.

Her job is to help take a report from consultant Linda McGrew, which makes a number of recommendations on how to increase revenue, and make the ranch viable and sustainable.

The City of Vernon, which owns the ranch, has announced it is decreasing its funding to the site over the next couple of years.

“My position here is to make change happen,” said Franks. “Change is good, but it can make people nervous and worried. That’s not the case here. Change is to make the ranch go on.”

Earlier this year, the ranch named a new board of directors with Jenelle Brewer taking over as president. The ranch also hired an operations and financial manager, but both positions became vacant and the search is on to fill those positions.

RELATED: New board management for ranch

Franks broke down the ranch into two sections: there’s the heritage side, which the ranch’s staff and board understand clearly that the mandate is to protect the heritage site, promote it and use it as an educational piece.

But the ranch also has to bring in revenue to support that mandate.

“Bringing in these potential revenue streams will allow us to be sustainable,” said Franks. “Some people think we’re moving away from our mandate and that’s not true. We’re using the revenue to support and encourage our mandate.”

The ranch’s popular Cowboy Dinner returns throughout the summer months. Field of Screams, the annual Halloween event, is returning. The ranch will also host the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Business June 20 starting at 5 p.m.


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