Rainy Lake Square now gearing for second year

Ken Kellar

The Rainy Lake Square in downtown Fort Frances had a lively and busy inaugural summer last year.
Local economic development consultant Tannis Drysdale said that’s not an accident.

“Any particular event space is only as good as the events it holds in them,” she reasoned.

“So between volunteers in the community coming to perform and the paid performances we has as part of the ‘Rainy Lake’ series, we were really fortunate.”

It’s a fortune that should continue this year as the finishing touches are being put on the schedule of events for Thursday nights this summer.

“We’re nearly full now,” Drysdale said.

“I think we have one free night in the summer as part of our Thursday night series that we have yet to book, so there will probably be a spill-over into nights with other organizations,” she noted.

Part of the success of last year, and something organizers are looking to replicate this year, was the fact there were a number of different performers who catered to different audiences.

“We had Fred Penner who was obviously popular with both millennials and the under-10 crowd,” Drysdale said.

“And then we had some nights with bands that attracted the 65+ folks, and there everything from dancing to candies to high school graduation photos taken at the square,” she added.

Drysdale said one thing they learned from last year’s season was just how much effort it took to set up and tear down for each performance.

“We learned that it’s a heck of a lot of work every night, and we all get more physically fit moving barriers around and setting up stages and things,” she noted.

“This year, we’re more prepared as we now have some examples of what worked really well last year and the ability to just invite some of those folks back to do the same or similar.”

Several popular events last year were the local performers who were chosen to take the stage and strut–or strum–their stuff.

An online poll that ran earlier this year showed there’s a desire for more home-grown entertainment, with more than 550 votes logged to decide which local performers will play at the square this year.

Musician Dylan Ossachuk, along with local bands Distant Legacy and Kings of None, all will have a Thursday night slot this summer.

The square also offers a space for members of the community to share their talents in a less-formal capacity. Drysdale noted it hosted buskers last season and is looking for more to perform this year.

“If anyone is interested in busking, we have small per diems available throughout the summer,” she said.

“Just get in touch with our office and we’ll arrange for them to have a busking opportunity.”

Good music isn’t the only thing the square is known for. Returning from last year are the farmers’ market days, although Drysdale said the event will drop down to one day a week rather than the two days it ran last season.

Which day the market will run on still is being finalized.

The square also is available to reserve for members of the community looking to hold their own special night during the summer.

“Any not-for-profit or community group that wants to put on an evening or utilize the square is welcome to for free,” Drysdale said.

“If you’re for-profit and you want to use the square for a ticketed event that you’re going to charge, and it’s going to be a commercial/retail event, there’s a small fee attached to that.”

Anyone interested in booking the square for an event is asked to contact the Memorial Sports Centre.

A full schedule for the Thursday night events will be released later this month.