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CV Come Home Year plans 5 days of fun

Back row, from left: Chair George Anderson, Co-chair Frank AuCoin, Gerard Cormier, Jerome Wall, Richard Smith. Sitting, from left: Terri Luedee, Karen Colbourne, Chantelle MacIsaac, Patricia Cormier, Rose Smith. Missing from photo: Gordon Cormier, Lucy Poirier, McKayla Keeping. – Courtesy of Chantelle MacIsaac

By Jaymie L. White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

CODROY VALLEY — The Folk Festival isn’t the only reason to make a trip to Codroy Valley this summer. The Come Home Year Committee (CHY) is in full swing, ready to make their celebration one that can’t be missed. “The event takes place from August 1st to the 5th, and that’s kind of a situation where we just cannot randomly select the dates. In fact, the Folk Festival takes place the last weekend of July, and they have a huge tent that they put up, and so we access that after their event is completed. So they finish on Sunday, we’re taking it on Monday,” said Chair George Anderson. “We’ll have our people move in with their canteen supplies, et cetera, and we’ll start up then on Tuesday.” There are numerous activities planned for the 5-day event, including a parade. “They can come with their vehicles, their old vehicles, their tractors, ATVs. Some people will walk. It’ll be a slow process, and we’re anticipating that’s going to take an hour for them to get to the site,” said Anderson. “In the past, we had different communities with their own signs that they had made up but this time we’re going to provide the signs.” The signs provided will differ from the ones in previous years. “The signs that were made up in the past, two people had to carry them. It was like a banner, and this time we’re going with the smaller signs and we’ll provide one for each community, with the community name onto it, and one person can carry it. Now there’s a reason for that, because we’re into a situation where we’re not sure how many people are going to be able to take part in that and so we figured if we had a sign that one person could carry, it would make it a lot easier.” The signs are available at Kris’ Kustoms for $25. “The first one we had done, we had our names put onto the sign, Anderson, and we did that last time around and people liked them and of course they bought them and put them out on their lawns or buildings, sheds, that kind of stuff,” said Anderson. “So we’re trying to do as much as we can to get people involved.” It has been more difficult for the committee this time because less people are getting involved. “It’s not easy to get people involved anymore. In 2017, which was when the last Come Home Year took place here in the Valley, I was the vice-chair at that time and we had 27 people on our committee. This time, the most we ever had at one meeting was 13,” said Anderson. “In fact, the first time we called a meeting, we didn’t get enough people to come out for a quorum. Since that time, we’ve had nine to ten people at most of our meetings, and that’s been from the start right down to the end. So, of course, for volunteers, that meant that the workload was pretty high. We’ve done the planning, but we can’t implement without input from the community.” Volunteers are going to be essential for success. “We need 23 volunteers to cover the gate, the bar and security at any one time,” explained Anderson. “So we need 46 slots to be filled every day for five days. So we’re looking to fill 230 slots that are open. Now, some people will come out and stay during the whole six hours, not just for three, but a lot won’t.” Tourism Southwest has offered to help if enough volunteers can’t be found. “I was in Port aux Basques a while ago at Tourism Southwest, and they did present us a check for $500 to help with our expenses, and I raised this issue at that time, and interestingly enough, Cathy Lomond, the chair of that group, said if we find ourselves in a bind and we needed help, give her a call and she would see what she could do to get volunteers from Port aux Basques to come out and give us a hand. I thought that was really good, because that shows that, at least in this region, we have a sense of a bigger community than just our own.” Anderson believes that getting people involved isn’t just an issue in this region. “We had over 100 people out for dinner during the Winter Carnival in March. More than 100 came out to a meeting to discuss windmills less than two months ago. Rather it is a general feeling of sitting back and not getting involved. This is true for young people especially. It is not only here. It is true of many places across the province and country,” said Anderson. “I heard Penelope Rowe speak about this issue, the week she retired as Head of the Community Service Council in St. John’s. Their research showed young people did not want to spend time in endless meetings. If they did go to a meeting they wanted to leave with something to do. The biggest problem was getting them involved in the first place. In response to that the Council started a program called, ‘Go Getters’. The objective is to bring younger community members together to talk about the value to the collective well-being of the whole community by their individual involvement. As well, the participants meet older community members and learn about their volunteerism over the years. They also participate in community projects and discuss the positive effects and feelings of doing so at follow up meetings. There is a principle that states involvement often precedes interest . Hopefully, the outcomes of this project will prove that to be the case.” A lack of new members is an issue facing many groups today. “Talk to any service group, guild, or community organization, and they will identify lack of new members as the number one problem that they have right now. Without new members, many of these organizations will cease their valuable service and we will all lose,” said Anderson. ”As for the Come Home Year Committee, we were fortunate to have several new members step forward. The remainder are members who were on the 2017 committee. We are solving problems as they arise, and there are many. But as an old colleague of mine used to say, ‘it is full speed ahead, and damn the torpedoes.’” This year the CHY committee didn’t fundraise because they already had the funds they needed. “In 2017, when we finished out, we disbursed over $12,000 to community groups like the fire department, different guilds and different groups that came forward and helped us make this happen. But at the same time, we kept enough money to cover most of our expenses this time around,” said Anderson. “We looked at that and said, if we don’t do that, we only find ourselves in a situation where we’d have to be back to where we were in 2017. When we started, there was no money at all, and the group had to fundraise in order to get enough money to make this thing happen, and they did everything from sell tickets to sponsor potluck dinners, but we had 27 people on the community at that time. With ten people on the committee this time around, it’s wasn’t going to happen. So we were fortunate we didn’t have to.” The committee also made a number of decisions this year that would help them save money. “One of the big ones that we made was that we’re not going to have any fireworks this time around. We looked at it and fireworks for 25 minutes cost $2,500. So you’re looking at $100 a minute. Now, it’s got to be late in the evening, and so a lot of the young kids are in bed and we thought about it and said, ‘okay, well, if people want fireworks, I’m sure they can get some and take care of themselves,’ so we dropped that item,” said Anderson. There are numerous people who have helped make planning run smoothly for the committee. “The seniors group in Codroy has stepped up in a big way and they’re sponsoring a number of different events like lunches and evening meals and whatever, so we’re very appreciative of that. We’ve got the planning done. The music is in place. We’re fortunate to have Gordon Cormier on our committee and Gordon came in with a proposal that he put in front of us and said, ‘okay, here’s what I think we could go with,’ and we looked at it and said, ‘okay, put it in place,’ and so the entertainment and the bands are people that are known to the area. Some are living outside the area. Some are living in Fort McMurray, but when they come back, they’re going to perform here for the Codroy Valley, and that’s good. We’re looking forward to that, in fact, because it’s the kind of music that the people here are used to. We also allow food and drink on site,” said Anderson. “So we’ve got the planning done, now we need the people to come forward and step up and make it happen. We can’t carry it any further than we have.” The main hope is that everyone who attends will feel welcome. “If somebody comes here, has never been here, we’d like them to feel at home. And some people have the narrow view that it’s not home if you weren’t born there. Well, that’s a sad thought, because it’s not where you were born. Some people were born in places that they wish they’d never see again, but there’s those who are born in places where they love to be there, even though they’re living somewhere else. So home, the best definition I’ve ever got of it is home is where the heart is, and you don’t have to be born somewhere to feel a home. That’s the kind of feeling we’re trying to give people when they come. You come here and you’re important to us and have fun and be safe.”

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