For Your Consideration

For Your Consideration

The higher the high, the harder the crash

Thom reflects on organizing the Lake Kathlyn Float Festival

As 2 p.m. approached on Aug. 7, I looked out over Lake Kathlyn at a grey sky and choppy water. What was missing was the boats.

This was the moment I had worked relentlessly toward for months. It felt like every waking minute since April I wasn’t doing my day job had been dedicated to the Float Fest and now it looked like it was going to be scuttled by weather.

But the show must go on and since I was playing bass in the first band up, I didn’t have time to worry about what the proverbial gods had in store.

It wasn’t until we actually started playing that I looked back out over the water and knew Float Fest was going to be a success.

They were coming. Kayaks, paddleboards, rowboats, canoes and other assorted floaty devices.

By the end of the day, we estimated approximately 450 people took in at least part of the four-hour concert. I can only imagine how big it might have been if we had blue skies, still water and warmer temperatures.

And it all went smoothly beyond my loftiest expectations. Of course, I did not do it all by myself, but I had never organized something this big before, so to pull it off and see everyone having such a great time was a massive relief and I was able to thoroughly enjoy it myself.

Now everybody is asking me about Float Fest 2.0. I should be on top of the world and I was.But a high that great almost inevitably leads to a crash.

Fortunately, I knew it was coming and that it is normal. I had been living for weeks on dopamine, that lovely little neurotransmitter our body produces that helps us strive, focus, find things interesting and manifests itself in feelings of pleasure.

Since I was entertaining a houseguest for the weekend, the crash didn’t come until Monday.

If I’m being honest, it hit me harder than I expected.

So, while the idea of getting the high back by jumping into planning for a second annual Float Fest is appealing, I just can’t think about that right now.

Float Fest was a lot of things to me, but primarily it was the culmination of a healing journey that began in March of 2019 when I arrived back in Smithers.

Now that it’s over, I need to re-centre and focus on some other things I’ve been neglecting, like getting some intimacy back into my life.

We will be talking about doing it again, when the dust settles, I promise.

In the meantime, there are so many people to thank starting with my dear, long-time friends Bonnie and Al McCreary. I thought it was a big ask even when it was just a single band, one-off performance. As it continued to grow, they rolled with it every step of the way. I don’t know what I’ve ever done to deserve such great friends, but I am grateful to have them.

Heather and Pat Gallagher, too. Great friends and always willing to help out the arts. And they did in a big way. This would not have even happened without Heather.

And what can I say about my buddy George Stokes. He took a huge load off by taking care of the sound, which is no small endeavor and kind of essential to a concert.

And then there’s Lorna and Tom Butz. What an amazing idea to host a barbecue on their dock just across the bay with food donated by Bulkley Valley Wholesale. They have great ideas for the second fest, if there is one, so they will be part of that conversation when it happens.

Our financial sponsors were amazing. When we started with a grant from the Bulkley Valley Community Arts Council, the idea was to put some cash in the pockets of some artists who hadn’t seen a dime in a year and a half due to the pandemic.\Everything else was going to be on a shoe-string.

But then the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako stepped in with another grant followed by more money from the Bulkley Valley Credit Union and we were able to do so much more than originally anticipated.

Our major in-kind sponsors were great too. Interior News publisher Grant Harris went out of his way to promote the event. Love you, Grant.

Chamber of Commerce manager Sheena Miller gave me so much sage advice I am indebted to her. She also made Chamber resources available to take care of administrative functions I would not have been able to. Susan Bundock is currently working on getting everyone paid in a timely manner.

Zanna and the Zig Zags, Smithereens Mushroom and the Lake Drop Inn got the ball rolling on the buzz surrounding the festival by donating great giveaways.

Bulkley Valley Printers and Apex Cleaning services stepped up with services we needed that I hadn’t anticipated.

And when I started to worry about public access and parking because the thing was growing beyond my wildest dreams, in came Simply Gus RV with an offer of parking and Betty Cab (a brand new pedicab business) got on board to ferry people back and forth from the parking lot to the boat launch.

What else can I say except, this is Smithers.

My return to the valley was a very hard fall, but it is a very soft place to land.