Subdued community spirit raises Culture Days questions

Stettler and communities in the region certainly have a diverse culture and activities for all ages and interests.

Stettler and communities in the region certainly have a diverse culture and activities for all ages and interests.

When it comes to a weekend to celebrate this diversity during Culture Days, however, that community spirit was rather subdued.

With more than 20 local activities scheduled last weekend, organizers were optimistic that they would draw crowds of people to celebrate their community, with its “vast culture.”

Where were the crowds? Where is the community spirit in Stettler?

Why didn’t local residents embrace and catch the cultural spirit?

After one planning meeting, I came away with a spark of enthusiasm that this had all the potential of being the biggest annual event in Stettler.

But it definitely didn’t happen — at least not this year.

Those who attended and participated in the events certainly celebrated and value their community and culture — and had a great time.

Organizers are wondering why the community didn’t catch the spirit in the inaugural event.

While crowds of people converged on Big Valley on Saturday to celebrate another day of the centennial for the railway station, how can Stettler Culture Days flourish next year and long into the future?

Personally, I believe that for Culture Days to be a big attraction, I suggest that the event be extended to a week or a month so that communities — particularly close neighbouring communities — don’t compete for the same people who might want to experience culture in the wider area.

Bashaw community spirit was definitely alive last weekend as about 300 people experienced culture and history with a downtown walk with historical characters, a live show from Majestic Theatre, and a show and shine.

For me, the event in Bashaw was more interesting and more captivating than the Stettler show, because activities were held in the downtown and in a period of just five or six hours.

It seems that an event is best perceived as a great success when participants are gathered in a central location and for a shorter period of time.

With that, the musical entertainment in Stettler would have enhanced the spirit during Saturday events downtown, rather than having all those events staged all over town in a cavernous sports arena — which is really not an inviting or welcoming atmosphere.

On the other hand, some people have said that numbers shouldn’t be the only gauge of whether an event is successful.

When events lose money or are not cost-effective, however, they won’t last long.

While the Stettler Regional Board of Trade and Community Development received $5,000 as one of 38 communities funded provincially as host sites, Stettler will have to provide its own funding for next year and into the future to celebrate the special weekend.

How can the small village of Halkirk, with just a population of about 120 people, attract more than 1,200 people in a few hours to sign a blade for Halkirk wind project, while Stettler (with a population of almost 7,000) can hold an event with many activities and get just a few hundred over three days?