Horse racing gets a boost from Heartland stars

Save Kin Park fundraiser Saturday at the Spitfire Lounge

The oldest recognized horse race track in Canada, right here in Vernon, is getting some star treatment ahead of a major fundraiser.

The Okanagan Equestrian Society’s Save Kin Park fundraiser breaks out of the gates Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at the Spitfire Lounge at the Army Navy Air Force.

The event is raising funds to continue to the fight to save the historic track, which held its first races back in 1892 – the track dates back to 1885, when Cornelius O’Keefe donated the land for the purpose of horse racing.

To help out the cause, a couple of stars from the hit CBC television show Heartland are jumping on the Save Kin Park bandwagon.

Shaun Johnston (plays Jack Bartlett) and Amber Marshall (plays Amy Fleming) have created a video to share their support.

“We want to give a shout out to those fighting to save Kin Race Track,” said Marshall. “It’s really a historic landmark.”

“But recently it’s fallen on some tough times,” said Johnston. “There is a movement afoot to repurpose the land and interesting too because way back when the land and the facility was actually donated to the City of Vernon on the condition that it always remain an equestrian facility.”

The celebrity support is obviously making a difference as Saturday’s fundraising event is nearly sold out.

“This dinner is a great way for everyone to show their support of Kin Park, everyone who has enjoyed a day at the races and wants to see it remain,” said president Robyn Dalziel.

There will be a silent auction, dinner (with steak, chicken or vegetarian option) and dance with music by Aaron Gordon and Friends.

Among the many unique items donated to the event is an original piece of art created by famed Vernon artist Michelle Loughery.

“We are amazed at the community support,” said Dalziel. “The silent auction has over $12,000 in donated items but you must be in attendance to bid.”

There will also be a slide show with historical pictures of the many events that have graced the track.

Funds will be used to support the Equestrian Society in its fight to save the race track, which will be back in court July 22.

Tickets to the fundraiser are $30 and available at or call 250-549-SHOW (7469). Tickets will be available at the door, if there are any left.

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