Smithers turns 100 years old next year and if Gladys Atrill and her fellow organizers have their way, it is going to be one heck of a year.
The celebrations, under the banner of Smithers Centennial 2013, are in the planning since September 2011 and now with eight months to go, Atrill, chairperson of the organizing committee, is optimistic 2013 is going to be a great year for Smithers.
Atrill, who does marketing for Tourism Smithers, was initially reluctant to head the committee, but after a bit of thought realized it was something she had to do.
“This is my home and I’m pretty excited that it’s our centennial,” Atrill said.
“I just realized I have something to offer here.”
The organizing committee meets at least once a month and although many topics have been discussed one of the first items discussed and completed is a logo for the centennial celebrations.
The logo is now available and can be used by organizers of events during the centennial.
“It belongs to all of us,” Atrill said.
“The more people that put it out there, the better.”
The logo will also be used on souvenir products, to provide an additional stream of income that Atrill described as, “a small funding stream.”
Another focus of the committee in the early stages was the Legacy project, a physical structure commemorating the centennial which, once completed, will be the focal point of centennial celebrations.
The design of the Legacy has a strong First Nations theme as the Office of the Wet’suwet’en was involved.
“I think it’s going to be really cool, I’m looking forward to that,” Atrill said.
With the Legacy project deadlines behind them, the Centennial committee turned its attention to other projects, one of which is the homecoming, scheduled for Aug. 2 – 10, 2013.
The event, Atrill said, is essentially a big reunion for anyone that has ever lived in Smithers.
“It’s an opportunity to reconnect with friends and family,” she said.
Leading the organization of the homecoming is Councillor Bill Goodacre.
Festivities for the week-long event include a street dance and an official declaration of the commemoration, Goodacre explained.
Other candidates for the homecoming include sporting events and music.
“Music is a part of our culture, we have some fantastic musicians here who have already expressed interest,” Atrill said.
The largest task, for those helping with the homecoming week, is to spread the word as far and wide as possible to let as many former residents know about the homecoming, Goodacre said.
Although the homecoming is likely the major event of the centennial celebrations, Atrill hoped people and organizations would not be deterred from organizing events at other times of the year.
“The centennial belongs to the residents and whatever is planned is fantastic,” Atrill said.
“We’ve had several people and organizations say they want to put on an event in conjunction with the centennial.”
The role of the organizing committee, Atrill said, is to facilitate the events, to help with the organizing and to provide assistance where they can.
The model, the organizing committee has established, would see the centennial committee providing some marketing assistance, co-ordination as well as some funding if required.
“We’re going to provide support, but we won’t be gatekeepers,” Atrill said.
“If people have ideas of what they want to do for their centennial that’s fantastic.”
To facilitate communication, Atrill encouraged anyone wanting to organize an event to contact the organizing committee so they can include the event in their schedule of events and also to avoid duplication of events.
The committee is also turning its attention to organizing volunteers to help with the various events, assisting with accommodations, the types of things an event organizer might need help with.
“Help with the logistics that the person organizing an event and is eyeballs deep in it doesn’t have time for one more chore and that chore can come to us.”
This, Atrill suggested, would be most useful for organizers of smaller events who don’t have the manpower to deal with all of the details.
It is difficult to enter into new adventures without some preconception of how the adventure will unfold and often those preconceptions are modified by unexpected events.
For Atrill, the unexpected event was an experience she hadn’t expected and it happened at the first general meeting to establish the organizing committee.
“There was a cool thing that happened, during the introductions,” Atrill said.
“People said they came here to visit for a weekend, a month, with no intention of staying, but here they are because they love it [Smithers].”
Atrill admitted she was also moved by the sense of community pride.
“I’ve been astonished by the enthusiasm,” Atrill said.
“It’s really cool, it really wraps up what the community is, they’re involved, they love where they live and they’re excited to do something about it.
For more information visit www.Smithers2013.com. To help with the homecoming contact Goodacre at 250-877-1895 or firstname.lastname@example.org.