Let me come clean right off the top.
I did not attend the BIA’s first “Harvest Festival” on the 200 and 300 blocks of Scott Street on Saturday, nor did I attend the “unveiling” of the town’s awesome second heritage mural on the side of the Masonic Lodge earlier that day.
I did not attend the second-annual “Fly-in, Drive-in” barbecue out at the airport on Saturday. And, you guessed it, I did not attend Sunday night’s performance by “The Waifs” to kick off tour de Fort’s inaugural “Encore” concert series.
Hmmm, I also didn’t make it to the annual Chamber of Commerce trade show at the Memorial Sports Centre the previous weekend.
That said, I’m probably not the best person to praise–and thank–those individuals and groups who worked hard to stage these various events around town. It’s not that they don’t deserve it, I just don’t want to sound hollow, or worse, like a hypocrite.
On the other hand, as a former director with the local Chamber of Commerce (including a stint as president) as well as a volunteer for a few terms on the museum board, I’ve worn the shoe on the other foot. I’ve walked that mile in the other person’s moccasin. As such, I know, firsthand, the effort and countless hours that go into organizing events.
I also know, very well, the feeling of disappointment when it all seems for nought because of a poor turnout. Or the frustration of overhearing someone say there’s never anything to do in Fort Frances.
It’s no wonder, then, that so many volunteers burn out, or just throw up their hands in defeat. After all, you can only bang your head against the wall so many times. Frankly, as someone who’s been in the trenches, it’s all too often a thankless job.
Well, thank goodness so many people in our community tackle these thankless jobs year after year.
I’ve known, and respected, Bruce Caldwell for years. I also know he’s an airplane buff (it’s probably no coincidence his home is right across from the airport) and that he’s been very involved in bringing air shows to town, not to mention the Snowbirds several times.
So it’s no real surprise that Bruce has been front and centre in getting the “Fly-in/Drive-in” barbecue off the ground these past two years. It’s certainly not because he’s going to make a buck off it. He just wants to put Fort Frances–and our airport–on the map.
Slowly, but surely, his hard work is paying off.
I also know Dawn Booth quite well, having worked with her at the Chamber during my final two years on the board. As I was driving to Safeway on Saturday, I noticed her helping man the corn roast near Robin’s Donuts as a fundraiser for town beautification projects.
Yes, Dawn is a paid employee, but she’s always gone above and beyond her duties to spearhead any and every Chamber project–no matter how successful they turn out to be (whether financially or in terms of attendance).
Why? Because she wants to make Fort Frances a vibrant place to live.
And I’m impressed with the direction the BIA is taking under the chairmanship of Ted Debenetti. It’s great to see the BIA expand its horizons beyond “Mall Day” each June.
More important, it’s great to see people stepping to the plate to breathe new excitement into the downtown core.
Then there’s all the people involved with tour de Fort, which, after a humble beginning, now boasts a “passport” concert series that literally sells out before the previous one wraps up.
But did they stop there? No. They’ve now put together the “Encore” series so even more people in town and across the district can enjoy a good show–at affordable prices.
Obviously, there are countless other “unsung” heroes working behind the scenes out there too numerous to mention for fear of leaving someone out. And in fact, when all is said and done, what I’m trying to convey here (at risk of wallowing in hypocrisy) really can be summed up in just two words.
Let me come clean right off the top.