Iron Springs annual parade and barbecue a go
It is time for some fun for the hamlet of Iron Springs.
The community which is along Highway 25 between Picture Butte and Turin, will hold their annual parade and barbecue on September 8.
“We always have it the first Saturday after Labor Day,” John Heersink, founder and leader of the Iron Springs Parade committee said.
“When we first started out, we thought about having it in the summer, but you know every weekend there's so much going on.”
Celebrations begin at 6 p.m. with the parade and the barbecue starts at 7 p.m. Due to the recent fire ban, there will be no fireworks this year.
However, there will be a bouncy castle, horseshoes, a tug-of-war, and a homemade pie baking contest with prizes.
The barbecue costs $5 per person, but everything else is free.
The parade came to life in 2012 when Heersink saw a man and his two daughters and the girls were both riding their bikes.
Heersink said he started to chat with them and they were talking about decorating their bikes, so he jokingly said that they should have a parade. With the girl and her sister being interested, Heersink and the two girls put on the first parade in Iron Springs.
“We had a very short parade; we didn't have anything other than the parade,” Heersink said. “We didn't know what to expect. It was short, but we had about 60 people watching. And then for the fun of it we decided to go around the block again. One of our trademarks is to take the parade around the block twice.”
The celebrations used to include lawnmower racing, but the future of that activity being part of the celebrations is now in question because there is currently no place to hold the races.
“The first year we did it was pretty successful, but then the next year we didn't get any pre-registrations,” Heersink said of the racing.
“We thought we weren't going to have it, but they all showed up the day of. The land we had it on was county land and they always allowed the races.”
Unfortunately, Heersink said that the county sold the land to a private person and that person wanted the land to stay private.
The new owner was also worried about possible liabilities of having lawnmower races on their land.
A committee consisting of locals plans the parade and Heersink says that the parade, barbecue, and other activities have no specific budget, but they have had food donations and monetary donations from people.
The current Iron Springs Parade committee consists of Tony Ankermann, Bryan and Hanneke Vande Munt, Larry and Barb Maljaars, and Heersink.
“Once you start planning, you find out about how much work it is and how much time it’s going to take.” Heersink said.
Heersink explains one of the new ideas that the parade committee is experimenting with this year is inviting local businesses to put forth money and they’ll get a sign to put whatever information they want about their business on it.
The signs will then go on floats in the parade.
“If you have any ideas let us know; if you want to be on a committee come and join us,” Heersink said.
“I think people probably have some good ideas but they never think past coming to the parade and a couple of weeks later, nobody thinks about it again until July.”
Heersink says that the area is very rural and he thinks probably half the crowd from the previous year will show up to this year’s parade, but there will also new people.
“Before computers and needing to run to Lethbridge for everything, people would not travel very far and the community probably meant a lot more to them in terms of social events than it does now,” Heersink said.
“I would personally like to see two or three events here but it would take a lot of work and I don't want to be saddled with that. I don't think the committee wants to be saddled with that either, but people who might be interested in organizing those things would be great at doing that.”
Heersink doesn’t see the parade expanding from its current format or size or change in any way from the status quo. Heersink would definitely like to see more of the community taking an active hand in organizing the parade and other events.
However, this will not stop him from trying to get more involved in the parade as the years go on.
“We, the committee, want people to become involved in the parade,” Heersink said. “We'd love for them to be involved in any way possible, but the parade is something that we would appreciate more participation in. We encourage families to involve themselves rather than just sit and watch.”