While they may now be living in the same town, some summer festival volunteers say it’s important to keep the communities’ individual identities – at least for the three parades being held next month.
The effect amalgamation has had on the organization of upcoming community festivals was brought up during council’s meeting at Cavendish Farms Wellness Centre Monday.
Lynne Guignard, a member of the Georgetown Summer Days Festival committee, expressed disappointment the town denied a request to provide a trailer for the committee’s float.
Prior to last fall’s amalgamation, Georgetown previously provided a float to promote the festival during Cardigan’s Canada Day parade, Montague’s Summer Days parade and then the community’s own parade.
This year, the town has made the decision to enter one float in each of the parades to represent the entire Three Rivers community.
However, it appeared the gesture was not as unifying as the town may have hoped.
“(Amalgamation) does work in a lot of ways, but there still has to be some individuality in each community. (That’s) what people are striving for. This kind of puts people in a position of us against them,” Guignard told council. “Three Rivers, three floats.”
Coun. Cindy MacLean also appeared unsure of having one float.
“Each community usually goes to each other’s parade,” she said. “Having just one float for Three Rivers, I don’t know how we’re going to that, but it’s all a learning curve.”
Charlene Hebert, co-chairwoman of the festival, told The Guardian the issue of finding a trailer was resolved after a local volunteer offered his own.
“We feel it’s important Montague still has their festival, Georgetown has their festival and Cardigan does Canada Day. It’s important to residents. These festivals have been going on for years, and it’s important to preserve the history of these communities."
- Charlene Hebert
However, the issue shows other concerns shared by some volunteers regarding the future of the existing community festivals and the fear that they could ultimately become one larger event.
Prior to amalgamation, a Georgetown councillor was in charge of a special events committee and liaised between volunteers and the town.
Although the festival still receives town funding to help make the event possible, Hebert said not having a councillor has resulted in volunteers taking on more responsibility.
And while she was not against a Three Rivers float, Hebert said the committee was disappointed in how the request was handled. She said taking three floats out of local parades overlooked promotion of the community festivals.
“We feel it’s important Montague still has their festival, Georgetown has their festival and Cardigan does Canada Day. It’s important to residents. These festivals have been going on for years, and it’s important to preserve the history of these communities,” she said.
While Cardigan hosts the major Canada Day celebration, it was noted during the meeting that Montague and Georgetown also hold some July 1 events.
The changes to festivals and special events previously organized through councils and subcommittees was discussed after amalgamation. The Guardian reported in February there would be no councillors in place to organize them. Much of council’s business since being elected has been on bare-bones bylaws, updating policies to fit with the new Municipal Government Act and daily business such as development.
Mayor Ed MacAulay noted the new community is still in its “early days” and without an events co-ordinator. Having a co-ordinator will help the town address concerns prior to future events, he said.
“Even with an event co-ordinator … there’s a lot happening all within a two-week period of time (in July),” said MacAulay, adding the hope was volunteers previously involved in the events would continue to organize them this year.
“The thinking was that it might be best to just have one float for the Town of Three Rivers and see what happens with that this year, rightfully or wrongfully.”
MacAulay said the year will be a learning experience.
“We’ll review some of the events and what we could have done differently,” said MacAulay, adding that he hoped committee members could provide “options and ideas on how to move forward (in) both ways, support the smaller communities but make sure we come together.”