Third time’s a Charm!
You know you’ve been to a successful Townshippers’ Day when there is so much going on that the day just flies by. And that was the case, last Saturday, for many of the thousands of visitors who attended the Townshippers’ Association’s annual event, held this year in Stanstead.
An impossible task to visit every tent, every special activity put on by local organizations and every musical performance, but what I did see was impressive. Many of the vendor tables were manned by local artisans and food producers with a nice variety of unique items like MarieJohanne Gagné’s bath bomb cupcakes and Misty Poitras’ home-made bath products and laundry soap. A crafting group of five women from both sides of the border, Diane Bertrand, Linda Keymer, Brenda Odegard, Cindy Patenaude and Sylvia Poirier, had a fantastic assortment of handicrafts like quilts, jewellery and wonderfully whimsical, hand-sewn cupcake and cake decorations.
Police organizations such as the Sureté du Québec and the RCMP usually run information kiosks at T-day and this year, because of Stanstead’s position on the map, they had company: representatives from the International Border Enforcement Team (IBET) had a kiosk in the Pat Burns Arena. “People have a lot of questions about the border; we deal with security, not commerce. We’ve come here before to the Haskell and to the town to address the councillors, but it’s the first time we’ve come to this kind of activity,” explained the Patrol Agent in Charge of the Newport Border Patrol Station, Fernando Beltram, who was at the booth with his Canadian counterpart from the RCMP, Officer Cynthia Mélaçon. “The concept for international teams all along the border came right after the 911 attacks and this one here is one of the best, always being used as a model, partly due to the leadership of Greg Bishop,” added Mr. Beltram.
Moving outside after touring the new arena, there were groups of people all over the main site, which was nestled in between the Manoir Stanstead and the arena , talking and enjoying the sun or checking out the food and craft booths set up outside. Scouts Canada were making a first appearance at a Townshippers’ Day event. Always looking for new members and volunteers, they set up a huge climbing wall that people could try out to attract attention.
Not far from the climbing wall a game of ‘cow patty bingo’ was going on as the patient players watched and waited for “Red Dawn”, the cow, to make her ‘move’. Organized by three teachers from Sunnyside Elementary, Emily Grey, Tammy Mosher and Colette Roy, the activity raised $950 for the school. Emily Young won the $50 prize by choosing lucky number 113. Red Dawn was graciously provided and transported by Greyledge Simmentals, from Cookshire, for the occasion.
There was no shortage of kids wanting to try out the circus equipment of Michael Jeanson, like Shayde and Raeanna Brus of Stanstead. Asked if her children were finding lots to do at Townshippers’ Day, their Mom answered,
“Oh yeah. They’re having a great time!” Teenagers Molly Desormeaux and Trevor Perkins, a young, international couple coming from, respectively, Stanstead and Westmore, Vermont, also looked like they were enjoying the day. “We’re having fun and it’s a good turnout. We really enjoyed going to the booth of the local bakery,” said Molly who had also had her face painted.
Music performances went on all afternoon in the beautiful Chapel of the Manoir Stanstead although I only made it to one. I finally got to hear the Choromondo Choir who made an impressive entrance for their performance, walking through the audience singing as choir master Alynna Harris beat a large, animal skin drum. I don’t know if it was the first time that the Choir had ever performed in the Manoir’s Chapel, however, the room’s acoustics seemed perfect for their beautiful voices.
Late in the afternoon, when the day was just about done, I spoke with Stanstead mayor Philippe Dutil who was getting ready to join up with the volunteer clean-up crew. “It was an amazing day – all the events were well-organized. Most people I spoke with said it was the best Townshippers’ Day they’d been to,” he commented.
Townshippers’ Association’s Executive Director, Ingrid Marini, also had a smile on her face at the end of the day. “It was an absolutely incredible day. I’ve seen nothing but smiles on the faces of visitors and committee members. We had a wonderful variety of entertainment and performances from diverse individuals and artists that really demonstrated the richness of the region,” commented Ms. Marini. It seemed like the only snag was running out of parking in the parking area for a little while. She was also impressed with the hospitality of everyone, including that of local resident George Weller who took Ms. Marini on a quick plane ride so she could see the big event from the skies.
“The whole committee also did an excellent job of keeping to budget and the community was very generous with their sponsorships and donations to the Silent Auction,” concluded the Executive Director.
Renelle Dutil and her husband, Stanstead mayor Philippe Dutil, enjoy a quick squeeze together at T-Day.