Time to shine

There aren’t many district events that can boast a 75-year plus history.
The Rainy River District Festival of the Performing Arts is among those few—getting underway today for the 76th time and running through April 22, with the annual “Highlights” concert set for Tuesday, May 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Townshend Theatre.
With the spotlight always seeming to be on the achievements of local athletes, “Festival” (as it is affectionately known) is a tremendous opportunity for all ages, but especially young people, to display their various talents—whether as vocalists, musicians, or in the dramatic arts.
That’s certainly not to say athletes can’t have a love of the arts, as well. But for those who will never capture a NorWOSSA or NWOSSAA crown, or revel in OFSAA glory, “Festival” is their moment to shine; the culmination of years of practice and dedication in the pursuit of excellence in their particular endeavour.
“Festival” would not happen year after year without those who give of their time to hone the talents of their pupils, and especially the volunteers who spend months organizing it. That “Festival” is marking its 76th year is a testament to all those who work so diligently to ensure the arts remain a valued facet of district life.
The fact “Festival” continues to attract top-notch adjudicators here each spring is another sign that it’s a quality event.
And with “Festival” having joined the Associated Manitoba Arts Festivals this year, local performers now have an opportunity to compete at the Manitoba provincials at the end of May in Brandon—allowing them to showcase their skills on an even bigger stage.
Many district residents have gone on to pursue careers in the arts and no doubt most of those can point to “Festival” as where they got their start.
Kudos to those who have kept this important district event going all these years—and here’s to it continuing for many more.

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Time to shine

You’ve got to hand it to Ray Bedard. But he’d rather earn it, if it’s all the same.
The 44-year-old Fort Frances athlete poured in a multitude of training hours—and had an equal amount of sweat pour out of him—as he devoted himself to preparing for the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Dublin, Ireland, which came to a close Sunday.
The groundwork for his appearance on the international stage was laid through years of tireless effort, including three weekly training sessions and an immeasurable amount of weights lifted, practice jumps taken, and sprint starts executed.
The fruits of his labour reached their ultimate payoff point last week as Bedard stared down the pressure of taking on the world’s best and rose to unprecedented personal heights.
He went centimetre for centimetre with his much-younger Brazilian opponent in the long jump event, succumbing in the end but still walking away with a silver-medal performance, which included a personal best jump of 4.45 metres—a full .29 m longer than he ever flown before.
Then after finishing fourth in his preliminary heat in the 200m dash, Bedard regrouped for the final, crossing the finish line in 30.15—nearly a whole second off his Games qualifying time he had posted at the nationals last year.
When you start a lengthy journey, it’s easy to veer from your necessary course by distractions and circumstances. But Bedard’s focus never wavered, and that single-mindedness to reach his peak gave him the incentive he needed to step up against the best Special Olympics athletes in the world.
A standing ovation from this corner, Ray. You more than did your hometown and your country proud.
• • •
The third-annual “Castin’ for Cash” live release bass tournament is ready to hit the water this Saturday and Sunday on Lake Despair.
A total of 56 teams will participate in the event, with $5,000 going to the winner. Second place is worth $2,000, with third garnering $1,000.
There will be a barbecue steak supper Saturday night, and two food booths open on the premises all weekend.
People other than the derby participants and workers who want to attend the steak supper are asked to call ahead to reserve their ticket, with the price being $15.
For more information, contact Bill or Nell Godin at Lake Despair Lodge (486-0532).
• • •
Anybody a little long in the tooth who still carries a passion for fastball is being encouraged to come and take another swing at the sport.
The Rainy River District Fastball League is looking for players to take part in its old-timers’ game slated July 24 at 6:30 p.m. at VanJura Stadium here, just prior to the league’s annual all-star game.
Those 40 and over are welcome to lace up the cleats and see some diamond duty in what is sure to be a spirited and good-natured confrontation.
For more information or to sign up, contact Ed Vold (274-9318) or Derek McKinnon (274-4578).
• • •
For not winning a single game last year, the Muskies ‘A’ football squad must have someone worried in the schedule-making branch of the Winnipeg High School Football League because the team’s itinerary for this fall isn’t doing them any favours.
After playing their annual pre-season game across the river against the International Falls Broncos on Aug. 29, the black-and-gold face no less than four-straight road games to open their regular season.
Granted, they then will get to play their final three games all at home, but you have to wonder why it was deemed impossible to do a little more in terms of balancing the Muskies’ travelling schedule.
Not that you’ll hear head coach Bob Swing or any of his coaches or players make excuses. They’ll accept the hand they’re given—and try to beat the dealer at his own game.
• • •
Best of luck to local bowlers Rick Stamarski and Bob Petawanaqueb, who currently are striking their way through the field at the national Masters bowling championships in Gatineau, Que.
The tournament, which began Saturday, runs through tomorrow.
May your shots be straight, gentlemen, and your pinfall plentiful.
• • •
More good luck wishes to Marty Johnston of Rainy River High School, who will travel to Kapuskasing this week to compete in the national junior chess championships July 7-10.
Justin Sanders and Daniel Sousa of Fort Frances High School also qualified for the nationals, but are unable to attend due to personal and family work commitments.
• • •
“It Always Rains on Saturday” is getting to be the theme song of the Borderland Racing Association.
While the region has suffered from a general lack of precipitation this year, what little rain that has fallen has been untimely for the track warriors of the Emo Speedway.
This past weekend marked the second time in four weeks that stormy skies have cancelled stock car racing action.
Hopefully, the weather gods will start smiling a little more kindly on the fast-paced four-wheelers for the rest of the season.
If you are planning any sporting events, or have some sports-related information or scores, feel free to call me at 274-5373 ext. 237 or by e-mail at jpayeur@fortfrances.com

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