As COVID’s chokehold on life loosens, planning has started for a community “post-pandemic” party.
Two details have been released: the date, Saturday, August 21; and the event’s name, “Celebrate with Maple Creek.”
It is hoped the celebration will be similar in spirit to two of the town’s premier attractions, the Taste of Maple Creek and the Heritage Festival.
News of the proposal should ease disappointment over damage wrought by COVID-19 to the town’s traditional summer schedule.
It has emerged that the biennial Thundering Hills Pow Wow, held in 2019 over three days at the arena, and “Showdown in Cowtown” – an extravaganza featuring Indian relay racing, rodeos, a pancake breakfast and parade – have been cancelled, although a bull-riding spectacle could be held in September.
There has also been confirmation that the Creek Classic’s 20th Annual “Show & Shine” will take place in the Jasper Cultural & Historical Centre grounds on Saturday, August 14. The event will run from noon to 4pm, with registration starting from 10am.
In addition, the Jasper Centre hopes to host a summer concert. Details should be revealed shortly.
The impetus for the “Celebrate with Maple Creek” initiative comes from Savannah Mass, the Town’s communications and tourism manager.
On June 30, she sent a letter to community leaders and past Taste of Maple Creek participants, inviting them to a brainstorming session on a summer event.
“As pandemic restrictions begin to ease and the Government of Saskatchewan announces dates for each new phase of the Re-Open Plan, everyone seems to be wondering if there will be a Taste of Maple Creek this year,” the letter said.
“The year 2020 would have been the 10th Annual Taste of Maple Creek, but COVID-19 had other plans. Broader than just the Taste, people are also wondering if there will be any events at all.”
Mass said her phone had been ringing from people as far away as Calgary inquiring if they should be planning to visit Maple Creek towards the end of the August.
She added that the goal of the “Community Leaders Meeting” was to touch base, see what the feeling was about “post-pandemic celebrations”, and present an opportunity for collaboration.
“We have been living through the last year and half saying ‘we are in this together’. Let’s put those words into action and plan a community celebration together. Collaboration builds success.”
The meeting was held on Tuesday, July 6 at the Town Council chambers. Present were representatives from the Cypress Hills-Grasslands Destination Area, the Maple Creek Chamber of Commerce, the SW Sask Oldtimers’ Museum & Archive, Rafter R Brewing Company, and the swimming pool fundraising committee.
The planning for a big summer event is in its infancy. Further talks are planned and more details will be released closer to August 21.
Contacted last Wednesday, Tyler Cronkhite, chairperson of Cowtown Productions Inc., said COVID-19 meant there would be no July rodeo this year in Maple Creek. Even though many restrictions were lifted on July 11, there was not enough time to plan such a major undertaking, he said.
However, there was a possibility, he added, of a bull-riding show, probably in September.
“It’s all up in the air at the moment,” he said.
Selena Taypotat, cochair of the Thundering Hills Pow Wow Committee. said she hoped the three-day celebration of Indigenous song and dance could be held in 2022.
In 2019, this event took place at the end of August, with competitors from around Canada and the United States vying for more than $90,000 in prize money. The Pow Wow featured a Grand Entry dance competition, dance categories for boys and girls, men and women, and “golden age” dancers”. There were also arts and craft vendors showcasing hand-beaded and handcrafted items. It was the first time the Pow Wow had been held in Maple Creek since 2014.
SUMMER EVENTS AT A GLANCE
Here are some of the events that will be taking place this summer.
July 31-August 1: Reno Rodeo & Ag Society at Consul;
August 13: Maple Creek library’s children’s carnival in the Jasper Centre grounds. This is a wind-up to TD Summer Reading Club;
August 14: Creek Classics 20th annual Show and Shine in the Jasper Centre grounds;
August 21: “Celebrate with Maple Creek”;
September: Southwest Art Fest;
September: Possible bull-riding