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Courtesy Town of Okotoks
Courtesy Town of Okotoks

Nov. 01, 2017 | Tyler Difley

Okotoks in the spotlight

Fun facts and top attractions in Okotoks and surrounding areas


1. The Big Rock
The rock is a glacial erratic that was deposited southwest of Okotoks during the retreat of the last ice age. The rock originated from the Wisconsin glacier and is the largest glacial erratic in the world.

2. Kayben Farms
Located only a few minutes outside Okotoks and open May – October, Kayben Farms is home to the 12-acre Sunshine Adventure Park and JoJo's Café. The adventure park features a play structure with four-lane slide, pedal kart track, wheat bin, little tots area, farm animal display and horse-drawn wagon rides.

3. Okotoks Art Gallery
The Okotoks Art Gallery was originally a train station, built in 1929 for $19,871. The last passenger train passed through Okotoks in 1971 and the station closed in 1972, but it was purchased by the Town of Okotoks in 1980. The building was re-opened in 1981 as a cultural and tourist information centre, before becoming the Okotoks Art Gallery n 2009.

4. Okotoks Museum & Archives
The museum is inside a beautiful historical home that dates back to 1905. It was home to several prominent families over the years, and also served as a daycare, antique store and law/government office at various times. The museum opened its doors in 2000, and in 2009, a restoration was completed to recapture some of the home's original character.

5. Golf Courses
If you want to hit the links, Okotoks is home to a few excellent golf courses, including D'Arcy Ranch Golf Club, Crystal Ridge Golf Club and River's Edge Golf Course

6. Chinook Honey Company
What started as a beekeeping hobby with only a couple hives in 1995 is now a successful business for Art and Cherie Andrews. Located south of Okotoks, the Chinook Honey Company is a place where visitors can purchase raw honey and locally produced mead, while learning more about bees and beekeeping.

7. Okotoks Dawgs at Seaman Stadium
The Okotoks Dawgs play in the Western Major Baseball League and are four-time league champions. They play their homes games at Okotoks' Seaman Stadium, which seats 1,600 with room for more fans on its left-field berm.

8. Okotoks Oilers
The Okotoks Oilers play in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. They play their homes games at Okotoks' Pason Centennial Arena.

9. Rotary Performing Arts Centre
The centre, which opened in 2005, was originally a Methodist Church, built in 1906. It became the Okotoks United Church in 1917, and eventually, the congregation put it up for sale when they needed to move to a bigger space. The Okotoks Arts Council purchased the church and donated it to the Town of Okotoks so it could be used as a performing arts facility.

10. Saskatoon Farm
The farm started with a few Saskatoon berry seedlings planted by Paul and Karen Hamer at the confluence of the Sheep River and Highwood River 30 years ago. Today, it's home to greenhouses, a gift shop, a 100-seat restaurant, a seasonal farmers market and a popular annual u-pick for Saskatoon berries and sour cherries.

11. Parks
Okotoks is full of beautiful parks and green spaces that are home to athletic fields, off-leash areas and a variety of multi-use pathways, including Kinsmen Park and Wylie Athletic Park.

12. Okotoks Public Library
The library offers a number of materials for loan, as well as free computer access and wi-fi, laptop loans, meeting rooms, printing and copying services, and more. It also hosts several programs and events for all ages, including library tours.

13. Okotoks Curling Rink
The rink features six ice sheets, as well as a concession, and viewing and lounge areas. The rink is currently being leased seasonally to the Okotoks Curling Club and its 10 leagues that accommodate 600 curlers annually.

14. Okotoks Recreation Centre
Located in the northern half of the city, the Okotoks Recreation Centre is a multi-use facility that houses a hot tub, sauna, fitness studio, curling rink, indoor pools and ice arenas. It's also home to a child-minding service and a youth centre.

15. Spirit of Okotoks Annual Parade and Children's Festival
The Parade and Children's Festival is one of the largest annual events in Okotoks, held each year in June. The parade features bands, floats, dancers, horses and fire trucks. The Children's Festival includes live entertainment, games, $1 concession, crafts and other activities.

16. Spirit of Christmas
Art Show and Sale
During the holiday season, the Okotoks Art Gallery is home to the Spirit of Christmas Art Show and Sale, featuring holiday ornaments, jewelry, cards and other wonderful holiday gifts created by local artisans. Local artwork is also displayed for sale, with nothing priced above $200.

17. Sheep River
Part of the Bow River watershed, the Sheep River originates in Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park and joins the Highwood River just outside of Okotoks. The river provides drinking water for Okotoks, as well as Turner Valley and Black Diamond.

18. Old-Fashioned Skating Party
Each January, Okotoks hosts an old-fashioned skating party on the outdoor rink at the Okotoks Recreation Centre to celebrate winter. Families can bring their skates and enjoy outdoor skating, music and hot chocolate.

19. Chamber Trade & Lifestyle Show
The annual trade show boasts 34,000 square feet of exhibit space, nearly 150 exhibitors and more than 3,500 visitors. It also features a presentation stage and a food sampling area.

20. Okotoks Pro Rodeo
The Okotoks Pro Rodeo has been held annually for more than 20 years, hosting contestants and visitors from Canada, the United States, Europe, Asia, New Zealand and Australia. The Okotoks Pro Rodeo is sanctioned by the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association, with co-sanctioning by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. This rodeo is one of the last and most important qualifying stops for contestants vying to reach the Canadian Finals Rodeo.

21. HarvestFest
A community celebration of the Fall Harvest, with activities that include old-fashioned carnival games, a petting zoo, a collection of antique farm equipment and live entertainment.

22. Kite Day Festival
Each April, Okotoks residents and visitors can enjoy a free day of family fun with kite flying in celebration of Earth Day and the arrival of spring.

23. BuskersFest
Musicians, actors, magicians, jugglers, street performers, dancers, b-boys, singers and entertainers of all ages spread throughout the streets of downtown Okotoks for this fun, free street festival. Attendees can also shop at nearby downtown stores, as well as at the artisan street market.

24. Taste of Okotoks
At this July culinary event, attendees can experience all the food and drink Okotoks has to offer. The city's downtown streets are closed for this pedestrian-friendly event, which boasts live music, food, a variety of artists, crafts and entertainment, boutique shops and an artisan street market.

25. Okotoks Show and Shine
The Okotoks Show and Shine was established in 2009 and continues to be one of the most popular events in Okotoks. Each August, over 10,000 spectators fill the streets of downtown Okotoks to view more than 500 unique cars, trucks and motorcycles.

26. Foothills Highland Games
Held in August, this event attracts 3,000 spectators and 350 competitors from across Alberta and neighbouring provinces. The games are organized by the Foothills Highland Games Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering Scottish culture in the Foothills area.

27. Okotoks Chili Fest
In late August, Western-themed activities take over downtown Okotoks. The main event is a chili cook-off. Visitors can taste the chili creations or register a team and compete.

28. Alberta Culture Days
Each year the Town of Okotoks, together with the Okotoks Arts Council, hosts several free cultural activities in late September as part of Alberta Culture Day celebrations.

29. Light up Okotoks
Held on the third Friday in November each year, the Light Up Okotoks celebration kicks off the Christmas season in downtown Okotoks. It features the lighting of the community Christmas tree, live entertainment, wagon rides, a sugar shack, ice sculpture demos, cookie decorating, craft sales, late-night shopping and fireworks.

1. Millarville Farmers' Market
This popular farmers market, open from June through to the first week of October, is hosted by the non-profit Millarville Racing & Agricultural Society and features a variety of unique vendors and farm-fresh produce.

2. Granary Road Public Market
This new venue south of the city includes a year-round indoor farmers market, onsite bakery, bistro and lounge, and an active learning park with 11 exhibits that revolve around insects, small animals or agriculture – all with an educational focus.

3. Leighton Art Centre
Located just outside the city, with views of the foothills and the Rocky Mountains, the centre "connects visitors to art, history, and landscape" through year-round arts programming. It was originally home to artists A.C. and Barbara Leighton.

4. Spruce Meadows
An iconic southern-Alberta attraction, Spruce Meadows hosts prestigious horse-jumping events year-round. It's also home to a popular Christmas artisan market.

5. Eau Claire Distillery
This uniquely Albertan business is located in nearby Turner Valley. The distillery, which calls the historic former Turner Valley Movie Theatre and Dance Hall home, churns out several unique spirits in a region that was once known for illicit moonshine production and bootlegging during prohibition.

6. Rothney Observatory
Located on a hilltop in the foothills northwest of Okotoks, this University of Calgary facility is dedicated to teaching people about astronomy, and offers an unobstructed view of the entire night sky, without the light pollution of the city.


1. Okotoks is home to more than 28,000 people and is expected to grow to roughly 80,000 people in the coming decades thanks to an ongoing annexation process

2. Okotoks had a total of 9,815 dwellings in 2016

3. 77 per cent of occupied dwellings in Okotoks are single-detached homes

4. The mayor of Okotoks is Bill Robertson, who was re-elected to his third term on Oct. 16, 2017

5. Okotoks comes from the Blackfoot word "Okatok," which means "rock" – likely a reference to the famous Big Rock glacial erratic located southwest of the town

6. Kenneth Cameron and Alexander McRae were some of the earliest European settlers in the Okotoks area, putting down roots along Sheep Creek in the early 1880s

7. Okotoks was named Dewdney from 1892 to 1896, after the lieutenant-governor of the North-West Territories, Edgar Dewdney – the name was eventually changed back to Okotoks to avoid confusion with Dewdney, N.W.T.

8. Okotoks incorporated as a village in 1893 and became a town on June 1, 1904

9. Okotoks received telephone service and electric lights in 1906 and natural gas in 1912, but had no public waterworks or a sewer system until 1952

10. Early Okotoks was prone to flooding – the Sheep River overran its banks in 1902, 1915, 1940 and 1963

11. After oil was discovered in Turner Valley in 1914, Okotoks became known as the "Heart of he Oilfields," since drilling equipment coming down the railway stopped in Okotoks on its way to Turner Valley

12. Okotoks' population has roughly doubled every 10 years since the 1970s, although growth has slowed somewhat in recent years

13. The last bison in the Okotoks area was killed in 1879

14. In the early 1900s, land in Okotoks sold for $2-4 per acre

15. Train passenger service to Okotoks was discontinued in 1971 after 80 years of service

Tagged: Feature | Okotoks | Surrounding Areas | town of okotoks

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