Rain or shine – the show must go on
Ominous overcast skies threatened to put the kibosh on the Relic Riders annual Show’n Shine in Carbonear over a recent weekend. But the show went on and, despite diminished numbers caused by threatening weather, it turned out to be a smashing success.
In neighbouring Harbour Grace, the 150th annual regatta also proceeded. But it had to be postponed part way through due to an unusual weather condition — certainly not for Newfoundland — but for the races. Low-lying fog so thick as to render the rowers invisible. The balance of the races proceeded the next day and everything went well with the numbers of young people taking to the racing shells an encouraging omen for the future of this most historic sporting event.
But these two events just serve to illustrate just how dependent events that must take place outdoors are dependent on weather conditions.
The weather on the day or weekend of your event can make or break your outdoor activities. Just ask the organizers of last year’s Newfoundland Folk Festival in St. John’s. Thankfully, they were able to weather last year’s disaster caused by such miserable weather and bounce back to attract recordbreaking crowds to Bannerman Park this year.
Because our weather is so notoriously fickle, all outdoor events in the province need an alternate site.
Of course, that would be impossible for the regatta — you couldn’t very well put a roof over Lady Lake. And while it may be possible to stage a motorcycle show indoors or under canvas, bikers would agree it just wouldn’t be the same.
The best rig-out we ever saw for folk festivals and such was a humungous tent at the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival in Nova Scotia. It was large enough to shelter hundreds of folk music lovers in the event of rain, but the side flaps could be lifted up in sunny weather, giving folkies the best of both worlds.
Remember the infamous Sprung Greenhouse? One of its pods would make a dandy shelter for outdoor events. The only downside would be it being a fixed structure, not as portable as a canvas tent with its ability to be erected or broken down in minutes.
Alternate accommodations, and contingency plans (Plan Bs) aside, the two aforementioned events were among the dizzying numbers of events that are taking place all over Trinity and Conception bays over what has turned out to be an extraordinary summer for lovers of the great outdoors.
Behind all those countless events are a bunch of dedicated volunteers, without whom, they would just not happen. They punch in extraordinary hours, sometimes working around the clock to ensure your time at their event is an enjoyable and memorable experience. And for what? Since there is no monetary gain for people who give so freely of their time and talents, the only thing they can hope to take away from it is the satisfaction of knowing a good time was had by all.
That’s why we all need to take off our hats and give a pat on the back to those movers and shakers, who work so tirelessly to make things happen in our communities.
You all know who you are and you deserve a lot of credit for caring enough about your community to contribute so much to the events and attractions that make it what it is.
When questioned about the numbers being down at their event this year, a spokesman for the Relic Riders responded with a profound statement when he said for them numbers weren’t the most important thing. “As long as we can help one kid attend the Diabetes camp (Camp Douwanna) we are pleased.”
Too often for good and well-intentioned organizers, their events can become a numbers game in which they can use bragging rights for having drawn the largest crowds of any event in the region. But there’s more to any event than sheer numbers— a lot more.
And there are those that started out as great festivals, but have evolved into carnivals with bouncy castles, beer tents and circus-like atmospheres.
There’s nothing wrong with having such attractions for the youngsters. They just don’t need to be so dominant as to become a distraction to audiences trying to hear music and song. To add insult to injury, we’ve even seen them with big generators between the bouncy…and the stage whirring away and drowning out performers singing their guts out, through a sound system that is fighting a losing battle with the noise. Is there any need? If we would be permitted another constructive criticism, it would be in the area of scheduling. Having too many events on simultaneously might be a good complaint. But is there any need of having two fairly large events going on in the same community at the very same time. It makes one wonder if the left hand knows what the right is doing.
While you can easily do that in larger urban centres, our problem in smaller communities, is that, even in those that have large enough populations, we just don’t have enough outgoing patrons to support the holding of two major events at the same time.
We have gotten wind that there is talk of trying to hold a meeting in Carbonear sometime this fall, designed to bring all groups together under one roof to explore ways all hands can co-operate and help each other to ensure all our events are success stories.
That’s not to suggest that some co-operation is already taking place. For example the Carbonear Town Council has been very supportive of events like the Show ‘ n Shine, and Celtic Roots Folk Festival, just to mention a couple. And the town’s special events committee is to be commended for their yeomen service with their World Cup of Tiddly, and numerous other events the year round.
But avoiding conflicting scheduling is one area that could use some work. Let’s hope it’s on the agenda of that impending meeting.
Two or more heads are always better than one. Bill Bowman, editor