Everyone agrees that Clearwater’s Winter Festival held last weekend was a great success for the community. Hundreds of local residents took part in the Toonie Ski Days at the ski hill, the Ice Man Fishing Derby on Dutch Lake, the free family skating at the Sportsplex, the Love Where You Live curling bonspiel, the Novice hockey tournament, and the free cross-country skiing at the Candle Creek Trails.
The key words are local residents. There were, of course, several out-of-town people at the hockey tournament, plus a few more scattered among the participants of the other events.
No one can say, however, that Clearwater was overwhelmed by visitors coming here to take part in the festival. It wasn’t that kind of event.
The same can be said, unfortunately, about Clearwater’s Canoe Regatta, which has been held every September for the past several years.
As with the Winter Festival, the Canoe Regatta has always been a big success with local residents. Hundreds of people spend hours at Dutch Lake taking part in a variety of fun races and other activities.
The original vision of the regatta, however, was that it would act as a draw to bring visitors to the area during the tourist shoulder season.
This hasn’t happened. While there might be a few out-of-town people at the beach during the event, the overwhelming majority are local.
This should not in any way be taken as criticism of the organizers of either event. Both the Winter Festival and the Canoe Regatta are extremely valuable for bringing the community together to have fun. No doubt, given time, they also will catch on with people from elsewhere.
An example of an event that formerly brought dozens of people into the community was the Clearwater-to-Kamloops raft races organized by Kamloops Junior Chamber of Commerce for several springs about 40 years ago.
Unfortunately, the races were held at or near high water, the log rafts were difficult to control and the participants were often inebriated. After several near misses and one tragic incident, the races were cancelled.
The raft races did generate province-wide media coverage, however. They were unique and they were compatible with the Overlander historical heritage of the North Thompson.
We need to put our thinking caps on.