Mardi Gras fete helps ‘raise the roof’

Duane Hicks

“Laissez les bons temps rouler.”
The Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau had good reason to celebrate Mardi Gras a little early this year as a fundraiser dinner at the Copper River Inn on Saturday night brought in just over $2,000 to repair the roof of the old CN station.
“We had a blast! Diane Gibson and the folks over at the Copper did an extraordinary job of organizing this event,” Matt Soprovich, executive director of the Volunteer Bureau, told the Times.
“Mardi Gras could not have happened without all her hard work and dedication,” he stressed.
The event drew 125 people.
“It was really outstanding to see so many community members come out and support us,” added Soprovich.
“I especially loved seeing so many people who really got into the theme and came decked out to the nines with masks, beads, and full Mardi Gras colours.”
The evening featured Cajun alligator, Oysters Rockefeller, Louisiana shrimp jambalaya, and a variety of desserts, including southern bread pudding.
“The meal was excellent,” said Soprovich.
“I think everyone there really enjoyed getting an authentic taste of New Orleans.”
And what would Mardi Gras be without music? The E-Sharp Harp Blues Band, out of International Falls, rocked the house.
The evening also featured a silent auction and a bead toss game, where contestants could throw beads at a French Quarter street sign.
If they could hang their beads on the sign, they could put their names in for a draw for a $50 gift certificate from the Copper River Inn.
“We raised over $200 from this alone,” Soprovich noted.
The event was helped out thanks to many donations from businesses and individuals.
In addition to the silent auction items donated, Melanie Williams of Party Rock DJ Services donated her time to emcee the event while Donna Lowey made and donated the centrepieces.
Gibson Design donated all the decorating for the event.
“A big thanks, as well, to Bryce Campbell and the people at the Copper River Inn for giving back to the community and putting excellent events such as these on,” said Soprovich.
“On behalf of myself, the Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau, and the Copper River Inn, we’d like to thank the community for coming out, having fun, cutting a rug on the dance floor, and making this fundraiser a success.
“We truly could not have done this without the backing of the community and truly could not have asked for a better night,” added Soprovich.
“Our hats are off to you.”
As reported in last week’s Times, town council turned down requests for financial aid from the Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau, including one-time financial assistance in the amount of $20,000 to help fix the roof of the old CN station.
But the Volunteer Bureau is determined to focus on the future.
“The town’s rejection of our request for funding was unfortunate, particularly as it was evident that they did not realize all of the facts surrounding the request,” said Soprovich.
“Municipal funding would certainly be helpful at this time, and as stated was only a ‘one-time request’ for the roof,” he noted.  
“That said, I think that the strong showing of community support Saturday night, and the much-appreciated backing of local businesses like the Copper River Inn, is indication that there is a large portion of our community willing to support our organization and believe in its success, regardless of any support or lack thereof from the town.” 
Soprovich said the Volunteer Bureau will continue to offer public programming to support the community, including the annual Community Volunteer Income Tax Program.
“We will not give up in our quest to ‘raise the roof’ and continue to serve the public for years to come,” he pledged.