Sam Steele is back in Cranbrook and the city is planning one heck of a party in his honour.
The police superintendent and his North West Mounted Police brought law and order to the area in the 1880s, and now the legendary figure – and his legendary moustache – are taking a more prominent role in the annual Cranbrook festival.
This Sam Steele Days – June 13 to 16 – is set to be bigger and better than ever.
“There is something for everyone, it’s very family focused, but there’s also stuff like the festival gardens. We try and incorporate all age groups into celebrating our community,” said Laura Kennedy, coordinator for the Sam Steele Society.
The celebrations kick off on Thursday, June 13 with a pancake breakfast, which will be held this year at the Tamarack Centre from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. with a whole gamut of pancake flavours.
In fact, a lot of the festival will centre around food. There are pancake breakfasts each morning, and a lunchtime barbecue on Thursday and Friday.
The Spring Honda Taste of Cranbrook will feature about 20 local restauranteurs who will offer a sample of their delicious cuisine at the Saturday fairgrounds in Rotary Park.
A different kind of weiner will be on show on Saturday, June 15 at 1 p.m. when The Paw Shop holds it annual Weiner Dog Races downtown. This popular event sees the fastest things on four short legs face off, with one dog coming out tops.
Another popular event, the Strongman Competition, will mark its 10-year anniversary this year, when beefy blokes from all over Canada and the States come to Cranbrook to compete.
“For 10 years they have been doing this with the Sam Steele Society, and World Gym has done an amazing job with it and it keeps growing every year. We never have enough bleachers for them because so many people want to watch them,” said Kennedy.
Balancing out all that testosterone, Sam Steele Days is known across B.C. for its youth ambassador pageant, which each crowns a Sam Steele Sweetheart and Princess. After the pageant on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Key City Theatre, candidates will be joined by visiting royalty and community supporters on Saturday night for a banquet and ball at 6 p.m. at The Heritage Inn.
The party will carry on into the night on both Friday and Saturday this year as the festival gardens return to the Cranbrook Curling Centre. From 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., revellers can take in the celebrations with live entertainment by BCDC on Friday, and Cranbrook’s The Good Ol’ Goats on Saturday.
“Both nights will be lots of fun, and great entertainment,” said Kennedy.
Get active with one of several sports events over the weekend, from the popular bocce tournament Balls of Steele, to the busy ball tournament. There is also a soccer tournament and a three-on-three basketball competition. For something a little different, try bike polo at the fairgrounds, or take part in a disc golf tourney Saturday evening by the College of the Rockies.
The weekend will have a strong focus on events for families, starting with the treasured parade through downtown at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. Then head to the fairgrounds at Rotary Park for the inflatable funland, face painting, arts and crafts, kids’ go karts, clowns, train rides, logger sports and a talent showcase.
The Sam Steele Society has taken a new angle on marketing the community celebration this year, with a social media presence that mimics the man Sam Steele himself. His moustache has taken a central role, being front and centre in the new Sam Steele Days logo.
Deweys Pub and Grill is taking that angle and running with it by hosting a moustache competition on Saturday evening, where local men can show off their facial protuberances in honour of the great Sam Steele.
The theme of this year’s Sam Steele Days is the 4H Club, an agricultural program for youth that is celebrating its 100th anniversary in Canada this year.
Businesses are being asked to decorate with a 4H theme in the Cranbrook and District Arts Council’s window decorating competition, judged on Friday. And there’s more.
“4H will be participating in the parade, they will have a presence at the central fairground – they are going to be coordinating a petting zoo down there and have some other demonstrations going there,” said Kennedy.
In all, starting at the kick off pancake breakfast on Thursday and wrapping up with the Cranbrook Firefighters Fishing Clinic and the Country Fair in the Park on Sunday, Sam Steele Days will be a fun-filled weekend with something for everyone.
“It’s a chance to celebrate community and also showcase our community to all the visitors that are coming in from out of town, whether it be for the parade or for the ball tournament or just to take in what’s going on,” said Kennedy.
For a full calendar of events, visit www.samsteeledays.org, and get ready for an action-packed weekend, Cranbrook.