May 6th, 2015 ~ Vol. 85 No. 18
Rum Runner Days Committee calls it quits citing negative public feedback
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
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Pass Herald Reporter
There will be no Rum Runner Days this year.
The summer festival was scheduled for July 17 to 19 and would have featured a pancake breakfast, a parade, a live concert in the Isabelle Sellon School (ISS) soccer field and a beer garden. There would have also been bouncy castles, a car show, a petting zoo and a ten-minute fireworks display that would not have been called Thunder in the Valley.
At a recent meeting, Councillor Dave Filipuzzi announced that the Rum Runner Days Committee called it quits because there was not enough time to plan the event.
“So I guess we’re done,” he said. “[The committee] did spend a lot of time trying to plan for this event, it’s just that it became pretty overwhelming for them.”
The four-member committee was formed in January and allotted $30,000 to plan Rum Runner Days. The money has since been returned to the budget.
“Should we start asking them to plan for next year?” asked Councillor Bill Kovach. “This gives them a lot of time.”
“I guess it would be up to council to see if they want to try this again,” replied Filipuzzi.
But committee chairperson Mona Robutka said negative feedback was the primary reason that Rum Runner Days 2015 was canceled.
“We had it pretty much all planned,” said Robutka. “And there were a lot of people onboard who really wanted it back but there were a lot of people who, before they even knew what was going on, they just did not want it in our community at all,” said Robutka.
On April 7, about a half-dozen letters opposing Rum Runner Days were submitted to council penned by a host of organizations and residents concerned about traffic, facilities, public safety and the financial impact of the event.
Merilyn Liddell wrote to say that she lives less than three blocks from the festival site. In past years she has had to endure all-night parties across from her property, damage to her lawn and traffic issues.
“[I have had] visitors camped in the field across from my house, some of whom stayed up most of the night drinking, shouting and swearing,” she wrote.
“As a taxpayer, I am also concerned about the cost of holding this event,” she wrote. “If this event is revived and held in my neighbourhood, I will insist on an accounting of how money was spent and evidence of financial gain for the town.”
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A letter submitted by Lorraine Halton, chairperson of the Crowsnest Pass Gardening Club, opposed holding a beer garden in Pete’s Park, which the group had slated for gardening.
“We feel having a beer garden situated in Pete’s Park would have a negative impact on the newly installed fences, established grounds, and vegetable garden. Could the beer garden by located in an alternative location?” she wrote.
Brian MacFarlane, president of the Crowsnest Pass Wheel Nuts Society, wrote that the Rum Runner Days car show would have presented unhealthy competition for their own car show, the Show & Shine, which is scheduled for Saturday, August 1.
“We understand that car clubs have been contacted to participate in Rum Runner Days and that people in the community have been approached to organize a show in conjunction with the festival – an effort we strongly oppose,” wrote MacFarlane. “Having another car show or car display, will detract from our event as it is unlikely car owners will return to the Pass only two weeks later to participate in the Show & Shine.”
Robutka said the RCMP agreed to police the event but only “because Edmonton’s telling them to.”
She said the police had fears that Rum Runner Days would turn into an out of control debauch.
“They compared us to Toronto G7 and the Vancouver hockey riot,” said Robutka.
Despite these concerns, Robutka said there were a lot of volunteers and groups eager to participate in Rum Runner Days.
Andrew Fairhurst, president of United Riders of Crowsnest (UROC), wrote to say that Rum Runner Days would have coincided with the Rumhead Enduro bike race. Both groups wanted to use the Pass Powderkeg ski hill and the ISS field.
Robutka said both organizations agreed to share the facilities and Fairhurst wrote that he was lending his support to Rum Runner Days.
There are still a number of events planned for the summer. UROC will be hosting the Bootleg Bike Fest and Rumhead Enduro race July 17 to 19, the Rick Rypien Memorial Golf Tournament July 24 and 25 and the Crowsnest Pass Doors Open and Heritage Festival July 30 to August 3.
Rum Runner Days was to be held in its traditional site in Blairmore but committee members had been discussing relocating the festival to another part of the community. The site of the old Devon gas plant was considered, as was the Hillcrest ball diamond.
Robutka said she would like to see the festival come back. The committee is waiting for the results from a municipal survey distributed during last month’s Lifestyle Show to gauge the level of public support.
“Thunder In the Valley [and Rum Runner Days] pretty much put us on the map. I don’t think we need 40,000 people to come here but if we were to start out small and slowly grow, most of the bugs would be worked out,” she said.
“If [the public] wants it, I’m sure we’ll do it.”
May 6th ~ Vol. 85 No. 18
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