This weekend’s foul weather didn’t stop Salmon Arm from celebrating the nation’s birthday.
Both of the community’s major Canada Day events, the Children’s Festival at the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds and the fireworks display at Canoe Beach, ran as planned despite heavy rains that began in the afternoon and continued into the night. Well, except for a 20-to-30-minute window during which the fireworks display occurred.
“It was just miraculous – a Canada Day gift,” said city Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond, who helped organize the evening event at Canoe Beach. “I can safely say that anyone who took the trouble to go, it was well worth their while, especially the young kids who were there, they had so much fun dancing and playing… It was a hearty crew and I think they had a great time.”
Wallace Richmond said approximately 400 people showed up for this year’s fireworks display, as opposed to the roughly 4,000 who attended last year’s event. In addition to the rain, she said the smaller turnout could also be the result of lower expectations, with last July 1 being Canada’s 150th. However, the city had the same $10,000 fireworks budget this year and those who did show up were not let down.
“It was a little bit closer to the shore, so that’s why it felt like you were in the fireworks as opposed to watching the fireworks which I thought was very impactful,” said Wallace Richmond. “I heard that while the crowd was smaller, the fireworks were actually better this year because of the change in the viewpoint.”
Wallace Richmond is now looking ahead to 2019, and is curious to know if there’s interest in the community in moving fireworks to the B.C. Day long weekend in August.
“Do we want to think about spending that money on B.C. Day to spread the fireworks around? Do we want to keep having fireworks? I mean, these are all conversations we need to keep having,” said Wallace Richmond.
Despite the rain picking up in the latter half of the Children’s Festival, the event went off by and large without a hitch. This could be attributed to the volunteers with the Salmon Arm Children’s Festival society who co-ordinate the event and all those who volunteered their time to set it up, run it and take it down.
The society’s Kari Wilkinson also gives special thanks to those who came to the festival’s rescue Sunday morning after several of their tents were destroyed overnight by wind and rain.
“Our call out on Facebook for some community help to rebuild, because basically we had to rebuild our whole games section, went over very well,” said Wilkinson. “At six in the morning we had about 20 people helping us to get things rebuilt, so that helped out huge.”
Despite the challenges behind the scenes, Wilkinson said the festival went over very well and the turnout was great.
“I would say… from opening until the time it rained, the numbers were comparable to previous years for sure,” said Wilkinson.
Even with the rain, festival attendees could take shelter in the arena, or under the 20-by-20-foot tents set up this year near the main stage.
“That had a huge impact on the number of people watching our entertainment because there was actually shelter so we’ll be doing that again for sure,” said Wilkinson.
Over the next couple of weeks the society will begin planning for next year’s event. One consideration may be to add larger tents.
“If we want to go to bigger tents, which are a lot more costly, we would go to the community for support,” said Wilkinson. “But clearly the festival is loved by our families and our kids and we need to make sure that we’ve got things in place to make it happen.”
Wilkinson welcomes anyone who might wish to help organize next year’s event.