Rain or shine – the show must go on

The Compass - - OPINION -

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

The Com­pass

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