One doesn’t typically plan their own birthday party. Burns Lake spent the last 99 years becoming a centennial town, but no one was officially preparing for the milestone – no one, until now.
Bryanne White and Candice Little have been hired by the Village of Burns Lake to organize the ways our community might celebrate the past century as the village grew from a wilderness blip to the modern little gem it is today.
Part of the exciting challenge will be recognizing how the past 100 years was in tandem with Aboriginal communities that had been ensconced and thriving here for thousands of previous years. The start of that relationship is naturally implied but not formally charted out, and neither is any one idea for Burns Lake’s big birthday. What White and Little know, though, is how big the idea basket can be. Their first meeting as co-chairs of the centennial planning group was to emphasize how open the opportunity really is, despite time being short.
“We haven’t fully formulated, yet. We are in the early stages,” said White. The participants at the first meeting last week included some staff from the Village of Burns Lake and some interested community members, but they expect and hope for a lot more to join the conversation.
“I think it will be great. There is a lot of interest, lots of really great ideas,” said White. “We are hoping to span the whole year with miniature events and then we are hoping for a big four-day event August 17-20. I would like to see the whole town involved, the businesses decorated, I think it would be fun if we had some of the old Tweedsmuir Day events going on down at the park, maybe a parade. I think the goal is to try to celebrate the community as a whole, and try to get as many people involved as possible. I know the museum is working on some projects, and I can’t wait to hear about that from them. The tourism department has some ideas. Some community members have come forward who have been working on their ideas for months.”
So what kind of ideas might be worth exploring? Perhaps a concert with leading musicians connected to Burns Lake like, say, Ndidi Onukwulu, Nadina Mackie Jackson, Beverly Elliott, Bobby Stiles, Cheryl Bear, and many others, working alongside our resident stars.
What about a sports day with significant athletes who have roots here? A film festival featuring locally connected filmmakers? A listing of historically interesting sites around the area which could be GPS-pinned for an app for self-guided tours on into the future? A food festival or craft fair or art show or all of them at once? What about the events already happening, like the Lakes District Fall Fair, that could be upscaled by including the centennial theme?
It is a blank slate, but time is also of the essence. A town only turns 100 once.
The next meeting for bringing energy and idea is open to the public at 6 p.m. on Jan. 4 at the Heritage Centre beside the museum.