The bright side

Everything has its pros and its cons. For example there has to be a down side to a big crowd of people getting together in one place, no matter what the occasion. But where the Riverboat Daze Block Party is concerned, it isn’t easy to find. It could be that the fact it relies so heavily on a team of just three organizers is its biggest flaw. That’s three years in a row it has rested on the shoulders of that small crew, and if it is to live long and prosper, a few more people will have to roll up their sleeves and get involved. That’s how it looks from here.

Best ever, some people are saying. That could be, but a lot of different events have been part of Riverboat Daze in past years.

For perspective, The Leader’s July 28, 1977 edition had a 12-page section devoted to Riverboat Daze. It was mostly ads, offering specials for that weekend, which was the August Long. Riverboat Daze was a three-day affair, with events Saturday through Monday. It started with the Saturday morning parade, followed by ‘Casino and Midway’ on the arena grounds. Cash bingo was inside the arena. A hot air balloon was part of the show, plus a dunk tank.

On the Sunday things kicked off with a pancake breakfast, an interdenominational church service, a ‘fly-past’ and then at noon a fastball tournament got underway. Indian dancers, a band at the arena, more cash bingo and fireworks at dusk.

Monday’s activities included another breakfast, more fastball, a ‘bull of the woods’ competition at the arena, a relay race on the Lesser Slave River (this was the Riverboat Daze staple that The Leader sponsored for years), more live music at the arena and a draw for a boat, motor and trailer.

Riverboat Daze went on more or less like that for years. Sometimes a sandcastle competition at Devonshire Beach was part of it. Sometimes it was a big part of it; other times participation was poor and attendance lousy. And it took a big volunteer effort to pull it off. Could it be revived? It depends a lot on the number of people willing to do the work and what kind of energy and vision they have. But as we’ve noted elsewhere, maintaining the momentum will probably take more than the three people who have been bearing most of the organizing load. They’re not in it for the glory, but we’ll mention them anyway: Francesca Giroux, Rebecca King and Kimberly Hughes. Those are your Chamber of Commerce Block Party people. Well done!

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