In October, 1984, an advertisement appeared in Reader's Digest and Chatelaine: "More people in Canada drink Martini Extra Dry than compose sonnets in Salmon Arm...just". Alderman Don Rogers took up the challenge with the help of Okanagan College Instructor, Les Ellenor and created the Salmon Arm Sonnet Contest.
The popular competition ran yearly until 1998. Dignitaries such as Provincial Premiers, CBC and newspaper personalities and prominent educators were asked to promote the contest nationally and even participate if so inclined. There was radio, TV and newspaper coverage throughout Canada. Entry fees initially were $2.00. These increased to $5.00 and $6.00 eventually. Entries were limited to two per person. Local sponsors offered the following prizes: 1st. - $500.00 and a week in Salmon Arm; 2nd. - $250.00 and a week-end in Salmon Arm; 3rd. - Canadian books from Okanagan College.