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Parade, horse show, midway 'scrambled' into busy week of event planning

Newly named Summer Days will take over Lac La Biche on July 30 weekend.

LAC LA BICHE - The board was elected last Tuesday night at the annual general meeting — and just minutes after the positions on the Lac La Biche Pow Wow Days and Fish Derby Association were filled, they changed the annual event's name, reduced their own board's name to just initials, and admitted this year's attempt at the community celebration would be less exciting than past years.

"Something is better than nothing," is the catch-phrase that the LLB PW & FD Association has been using since its AGM for the upcoming Lac La Biche Summer Days slated for this coming weekend. That's right — this coming weekend, July 30 to Aug. 2.

Putting together even a skeleton of the event in just nine days — an event that has been a summer tradition in the community for the past 59 years — is a challenge ... but a necessary one, says new association president Lavon Fleming.

"We aren't going to be able to have some of the events tHat we normally would see," said Fleming, explaining that last year's cancelled celebration due to COVID and this year's mid-summer decision by the provincial government to remove most pandemic restrictions made the decision to hold the event difficult and necessary at the same time. "We have to give people something. We all need it. We need to put people first."

Lac La Biche County Mayor Omer Moghrabi says the first thing people have been asking him about in recent weeks is the possibility of the annual summer event.

"I've had people stopping me in the streets, asking if we are going to have something — I'll tell you, we are really looking forward to this," he said, adding that sometimes things that are done quickly can turn out to be surprise successes. "Sometimes quickly-put-together things can be a success."

Fleming agreed, and while the new LLB PW & FD Association board members have been very busy in the past few days working with local groups like the Chamber of Commerce, the Lac La Biche Rotary Club,  the Kinsmen, ROABA and municipal officials, they hope the community will rally around the efforts. "Sometimes less is more," she said.

What's happening?

Leading up to the start of the week, the association has managed to secure several anchor events for the Lac La Biche Summer Days, including midway rides that will run Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the downtown Recreation Grounds, a Saturday afternoon horse demonstration of the Lord Strathcona's Horse (RC) Mounted Troop, pancake breakfast events hosted by ROABA, a Saturday afternoon fish fry hosted by the Lac La Biche Rotary Club, seniors' pontoon boat tours on Lac La Biche lake, and a Friday morning parade coordinated by the Lac La Biche and District Chamber of Commerce.  There are also plans in the works that could see local musicians playing in the McArthur Park gazebo and baseball games as well — but those plans are adapting daily, says the Mayor.

It's been a busy few days, admits Fleming, saying there may be some crossed wires and challenges due to the tight-timelines — but she hopes people will see the heart-felt intent of the local groups trying to bring in the community event.

"We are scrambling on all fronts — but we have to give the people something. Our focus is going to be on celebrating life, celebrating our elders, our children," she said, continuing to use terms like "not as extensive" or "skinny" to describe the weekend lineup, but also expecting a good community turnout. "Yes, we are saying 'Something is better than nothing' — but this will be just fine, in fact, it will be something."

The newly elected board includes Fleming, Matthew Mouille as vice president, Neil Timm as secretary-treasurer, and directors Tim Bean and William Woodford.

While the coming days are expected to create a lot of work for the board and community groups, they are also expected to create a sounding board in the community about the temporary name change of the annual weekend event.

Acknowledging cultural sensitivity, Fleming and the newly-elected board agreed a temporary name-change was needed. The alternative name has been approved by association members, and has not received criticism from event stakeholders.

Time to change

While the event's name can be changed for all promotions and planning, and the association can refer to itself only by its initials, any plans to officially change the name of the association must be done through specific provincial legislation. Since the Lac La Biche Pow Wow Days and Fish Derby Association was first enacted by a Legislative Order in 1962, it is not a part of the province's Societies Act like most other provincial associations. The association is one of only four groups in the province to fall under its own specific Legislative Order.

An official name change for the association could take years to complete, as a change in name of a legislated decision creates a lot of red-tape to cut through, says Lac La Biche County Coun. George L'Heureux.

"To move that piece of provincial legislation through could take at least three years," said L'Heureux, one of nine people at last Tuesday's AGM held at the Lac La Biche Legion. 

Despite the relatively low turnout, association secretary-treasurer Neil Timm said another 22 "proxy voters" had registered with the association, but could not attend the meeting.

The association's financial statement was also adopted at the meeting. An updated budget for the coming Summer Days celebration will be presented to the association's membership prior to the event.

Fleming says anyone with short-notice ideas for this year's Lac La Biche Summer Days can contact her directly at 780-623-8636.

Check for Updates

The weekend events are expected to kick off with a Friday morning pancake breakfast outside the downtown Lac La Biche ROABA offices in the Value Drug Mart parking lot. The parade is slated to roll down Main Street at 11. More details and updates can also be found at and on the Lac La Biche POST facebook page.

Rob McKinley

About the Author: Rob McKinley

Rob has been in the media, marketing and promotion business for 30 years, working in the public sector, as well as media outlets in major metropolitan markets, smaller rural communities and Indigenous-focused settings.
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