Get ready to once again celebrate the City of Lacombe, its community spirit, and all its facets and roots during Lacombe Days.
The annual four-day festival returns next Thursday, July 26 to Sunday, July 29, and as always, promises to be a weekend filled with activities for the whole family.
While many of the staple and anticipated events will make their return, however, this year’s festival may be memorable for how it’s different.
“There’s a big gamble in changing events up, but I feel like you have to stay present and exciting,” said Event Coordinator Rosanna Kerekes. “You have to keep new events coming and stay interesting and fresh – hopefully it makes a difference.”
It was only a couple years ago that festival was on the rails – down to a handful of events on a Saturday with just two committee members putting the entire event on. Since then, interest has built back up and the festival has returned to being four-days long. Now, tweaks are being made to give attendees more bang for their buck all around.
Things kick off bright and early with the Field Crop Development Centre’s free barley pancake breakfast from 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. on Thursday. For those who rise a little later in the day, Sunny 94 will have their “Kick-off” barbecue at the radio station from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Following that, many of the staple Lacombe Days events will get underway, including Lacombe FCSS’ Lunchbox Theatre, and Central Alberta Youth Unlimited’s annual street party and Leaders of Tomorrow Awards in the afternoon.
The Blacksmith Shop Museum will be doing demonstrations throughout the day, and the Michener House Museum will host guided walking tours as well as the new “Skills for Homesteaders” workshop at 7 p.m.
The biggest change, however, will happen late at night on both Friday and Saturday following Music at Michener.
Gone is the evening fireworks show, replaced instead by two different light shows, including a country-themed show Friday, and a more rock n’ roll one on Saturday. Both will be held at 11 p.m.
“I think it’ll be a really great show. Catalyst Productions is putting it on and they’ve worked with Akon, Jay Sean and Gord Bamford – it’s really exciting,” said Kerekes. “They’re doing the lighting for all the bands as well, so it’ll provide even more effect for them.”
Headliners this year include Jamie Woodfin on Friday, and Alecia Aichelle on Saturday, with Ken Stead and Karac Hendriks opening for each, respectively.
If a country-themed light show, however, isn’t your thing, the Drive-in Movie, featuring Hugh Jackman’s “The Greatest Showman” will be held at J.S. McCormick School at 10:30 p.m. Admission is $10 per car, with proceeds going towards Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lacombe and District.
Saturday morning will also see a slight change from past years. With the annual parade set to begin at 9:30 a.m., those looking to pick a spot along the route should note it will travel behind the LMC, as opposed to down Main Street, once again due to ongoing construction.
However, many of the typical Saturday events will return unaffected – from horse-drawn carriage rides, the annual Show n’ Shine and art in the park where residents are invited to beautify the community’s dumpsters.
The Rose and Lily Show will be held at the LMC starting at 11 a.m., while the fire department will host the Junior Firefighter Games. In the afternoon, swing from downtown to Michener Park to take in Dr. Von Houligan’s Carnival of Calamities, or let the kids run wild on a variety of inflatable obstacle courses.
On Sunday, hit up the Lacombe Ag Grounds for the Central Alberta Draft Horse Pulling Club’s horse pull at 11 a.m., go geocaching, or tour the trails during Bill’s Amazing Trail Walk in the afternoon amongst other activities.
Notably missing from the itinerary this year is Locavore Lacombe, which shone a light on local restaurants using local ingredients to create a variety of dishes. The disappearance of the event is a result of the Lacombe Days committee losing a board member with a presence n the food industry.
“It was too difficult – we just didn’t have anyone interested and that’s in the food industry to help with planning,” said Kerekes. “I know it’s already in the back of people’s minds as a possibility for the future, but we might have to look at a different setup and organization to bring it back.”
Another event that’s been on the minds of those in the community are a number of car events, such as mud bogs and shoot-outs which haven’t been put on in several years. They won’t be making a return during this year’s Lacombe Days, either, but it wasn’t without lack of trying.
Originally, such events were held at the Michener Ball Park, however, with a community ball tournament held there over the course of Lacombe Days, the park is no longer a viable option and finding another location has proven to be a difficult task.
“Right now finding a location for these events is our biggest hurdle. Until we can overcome that hurdle and figure out a place to hold those events, we won’t be able to bring them back,” she said.
Not everything has been a struggle for the Lacombe Days committee in organizing the festival, however.
Some positive changes have happened in a more organic way, such as the business community really starting to embrace the event as a whole, extending their hours and putting on events of their own.
“It’s awesome to see more businesses being open – a couple years ago the biggest feedback was people came in and nothing was open,” said Kerekes.
“It’s really nice to see businesses do their own thing during Lacombe Days. It doesn’t have to be a big event – having those extra little things happening gives people a reason to wander downtown and explore our community.”
This year, Nowco Home Hardware and 1000 Words Photography have teamed up to put together “Chairs for Charity,” in which local businesses have purchased Adirondack chairs and painted them. Each will be on display throughout Lacombe Days, and be raffled off.
Good Neighbour Coffee will be putting on an open mic night sort of event.
Volunteers are also up this year, with a team of about 20 individuals ready to help set up and run events, as well as make the festival enjoyable for all.
Some of those volunteers will be at both info booths, and those who visit both booths will have the opportunity to get stamps and enter into a draw for one of four Hlinka Gretzky Cup ticket packages – including two for games at Rogers Place and two for Red Deer.
For festival details and a full itinerary, visit lacombedays.ca.