Summer is nearly upon us and that means that the much-anticipated annual Sam Steele Days — Cranbrook’s annual festival to kick off the summer — is just around the corner.
After a very successful event last year, the Sam Steele Society has made just a few minor tweaks and adjustments, but the heart and soul of the festival will remain intact.
Pamela Berry was hired by the Sam Steele Society as their administrator on December 15, doing the heavy lifting to get the 2018 Sam Steele Days off the ground. Berry has attended Sam Steele Days every year for the past 10 that she’s lived in Cranbrook since she moved here from Chilliwack.
“It’s one of my favourite events of the year,” Berry said, “and I don’t know if it’s ‘cause I’m from a city ten years ago that I love the busyness of it and the activities they have and just everything they offer so yes every year we’ve attended.”
Berry has also been involved with Kootenay East Youth Soccer Association (KEYSA), organizing soccer games and tournaments.
Much of the Sam Steele Days programming that is known and loved by the people of Cranbrook will be “business as usual,” according to Berry. The barbecues and pancake breakfasts take place Thursday and Friday, June 14 and 15, and Saturday, June 16, will be the main day of the event with the regular central fairgrounds at Balment Park by Western Financial Place, featuring the market and Taste of Sam Steele. Other featured events include the annual Strongman Classic — which being filmed by Sportsnet this year for national broadcast — the logger show, the beloved wiener dog races and of course plenty of bocce and the beer gardens.
There will also be an additional independently run beer garden at Memorial Place where you can take in the sounds of cover band Catch-22.
The parade is set for Saturday morning, but there is one thing that will be a little different this year. The organization has decided to adjust the parade route in order to address parking issues.
“When parade is over and [spectators] leave, they basically go straight across 14th — and there’s a big traffic jam,” Berry explained.
She said along with the adjusted parade route, flaggers will be on hand to direct traffic after the parade breaks up, to make it easier on both spectators and parade participants, avoiding traffic jams, and creating a safer environment.
The starting point for this year’s parade is at 2nd Street North and Kootenay Street, by the Cranbrook Public Library, with the parade lined up down Kootenay Street prior to start. The parade then heads Kootenay Street to 11th Avenue South, turns right on Baker Street, wends its way around 8th Avenue South, turning left on 1st Street South and coming to an end on 1st Street South and 13th Avenue, near Christ Church Anglican.
Another lesson learned from last year, according to Berry, is that this time around they intend to spread out the Taste of Sam Steele, ensuring everyone gets to try everything.
Finally, another change to be implemented this year is putting more emphasis on the Sunday programming. There will be a big kids festival happening, as well as the community church service in the morning. The 55-Plus games will have their torch lighting ceremony that morning, as well and then WeBike is putting on a presentation with an obstacle course that kids can participate in. So make sure to bring your bike down to the grounds.
“So, lots of things going on on Sunday this year that will hopefully attract more local than out-of-town people because I’m sure they’re heading home that day,” Berry said. “But anyone is welcome for it — it will be lots of fun.”
With Sam Steele Days just three weeks away preparations are in full swing, but Berry said that the team she has joined up with knows exactly what they’re doing and plans are moving along smoothly.
“Everyone’s so hardworking. The volunteers there, they’re very, very organized which is wonderful but yeah pretty much everything is set and ready. It’s pretty amazing, it’s a well functioning system that they’ve got going on there so it’s pretty easy.”