'It’s a win-win situation for everybody': Riverton Chase the Ace organizer
It took 52 weeks, but the draw is down to three cards, the pot is up, and the crowd has swelled to about 450 people—thanks to the new deck and beer garden the Riverton Motor Inn built to accommodate the crowd. (Supplied)
Published Saturday, July 15, 2017 5:05PM CST
Last Updated Saturday, July 15, 2017 5:57PM CST
One person may walk away from the Riverton Motor Inn bar $100,000 richer Saturday night.
Fifty-two weeks ago, the Riverton & District Friendship Centre started its Chase the Ace as a fundraiser for the urban-based Aboriginal organization.
Back then, a modest crowd of 20 locals gathered for a chance to win $8000. The game was simple. Buy tickets at $2 apiece, hope that your ticket will be the lucky one plucked from the pile, and then try to muster up enough luck to draw the ace of spades from a deck of 52 cards and two jokers.
A year later, that lucky ace is still evasive. And it’s the talk of the town, and beyond.
Saturday night, organizers expect people to come into Riverton from all directions for a chance at the ever-growing pot. Last week, it jumped $14,000 to $90,295.
It took 52 weeks, but the draw is down to three cards, the pot is up, and the crowd has swelled to about 450 people—thanks to the new deck and beer garden the Riverton Motor Inn built to accommodate the crowd.
“We’re thinking that after the tickets are sold today, it may be over $100,000. Maybe $105,000,” said Mitchell Johnson, the bar manager at the Riverton Motor Inn bar, who’s been handing out bracelets since 10 a.m. Saturday. Only 450 people can get in for a chance at winning.
“We have a feeling it’s not going to go tonight,” said Tanis Grimolfson, organizer and Executive Director of the Riverton & District Friendship Centre.
The Friendship Centre has also won big. While 50 per cent of the money raised through ticket sales goes directly into the pot, five per cent becomes a consolation prize for the person whose ticket was drawn…but they didn’t catch the ace of spades.
“Last week the five per cent consolation prize was $1,330,” said Grimolfson.
The remaining 45 per cent—in this case, $90,295 and counting—is money the Riverton & District Friendship Centre can use to pay bills and offer programming like youth and seniors’ activities, or its food bank. While the organization does receive both federal and provincial funding, Grimolfson said it also relies on fundraising to serve its 6000 clients each year.
Grimolfson said the game of chance was initially seen as a risk for the Friendship Centre. A year ago, the Riverton Motor Inn and the Friendship Centre each had to put $4000 into the pot to get it started. While its Chase the Ace pot grew to $53,000 three years ago, Grimolfson said the organization lost its money in the draw right away the last two years.
“We had to give it a whirl and amazingly we’re sitting at $90,295,” said Grimolfson.
“It’s actually unbelievable. It’s a boom for Riverton in general. All the grocery stores are busier, the gas stations, the restaurants, and of course the Motor Inn itself. It’s a big boost for them. It’s great. It’s a win-win situation for everybody,” Grimolfson said.
Tickets are $2 each, with each person able to buy up to 200 tickets. Tickets go on sale at 5 p.m. Saturday and the draw is at 9 p.m. Space is limited.