Residents of Wetaskiwin and region are gearing up for the excitement of the Summer Festival June 14th to June 17th, 2014. Judi Best, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, has arranged to have Main Street transformed into a carnival type atmosphere. The Wetaskiwin and District Chamber of Commerce has taken the lead role of organizing Summer Festival because as Ms. Best suggests, “It is a means to attract people and businesses from surrounding communities to come and enjoy the festivities and to discover what Wetaskiwin has to offer while showcasing our new Main Street and the businesses located there.” Guests can leisurely stroll along Main Street and enjoy the entertainment and displays offered by the Fire Department, local musicians, painters, photographers, farmers, artisans, restaurants and businesses showcasing their products, services and talents.
The midway and other attractions will be open Friday but the weekend really kicks off at 11:00 Saturday, June 14th with the annual parade. The Chamber, in planning the parade ran into a problem. They wanted to ensure there was a Pipe Band in the parade but learned Ben Nevis Pipe Band was going to be in Grande Prairie that day.
Ms. Best, “ approached the mayor in a text message to see if the City could share the cost of obtaining a Pipe Band”. The request by the Chamber was presented to the City Council on May 26th as follows: The Chamber is requesting that the City assist with the funding required to bring a band in for the parade. Quotations that have been given to the Chamber from bands in the surrounding areas have ranged from $450 – $700.” The Chamber was seeking $500. The City Council denied the request.
Best describes some of her frustration. “I never expected it would go to Council as a motion. If I had known this, I would have requested to be put on the Council Agenda and prepared a background report. It was very upsetting that our Council does not understand the funding contract and by suggesting the request for the funding for the parade as an ‘afterthought’ suggested that our financials were not in order” (budgeting for the Summer Festival). The Chamber receives funding from the City to operate and staff the Visitor Information Centre but they do not qualify for the Grant-in-Aid program that helps community groups fund special events or projects.
“I truly believed it would be a partnership between the City and the Chamber to provide what everyone loves to see in a parade, a Pipe Band.” Ms. Best wasn’t alone, so have no fear, the Pipe Band will be here. Ms. Best started receiving phone calls from businesses offering to fund the Pipe Band and it became very apparent by the number of phone calls she received from the business community that they are very supportive of the efforts by the Chamber to host a great event the community can enjoy. “I was overwhelmed by their support and thanks to one business there will be a Pipe Band in the Parade. Adams Chevrolet was the first call I received and I gratefully accepted their offer.” The Chamber received 6 other calls following that 1st call.
Many other businesses have stepped up to the plate to partner with the Chamber to help host an event of which the community can be proud, including bringing the Canadian Legend Rock Band ‘Trooper’ to Wetaskiwin. “I believe it is about working together and partnering to build a strong community and it begins with community pride, which has been shown to me by the response of the business community during the planning of the Wetaskiwin Summer Festival and for that I thank them.”