Canada Day cake created for the July 1, 2019 celebration in Ashcroft. There won’t be cake at this year’s event, but there will be live music at sites around town, and free DQ Dilly bars for attendees. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)

Enjoy live Canada Day event with music and ice cream in Ashcroft

Four mini-celebrations will let people gather safely outdoors and enjoy the company of others

With many annual events and festivities either cancelled out of necessity or moving online, the Winding Rivers Arts & Performance Society (WRAPS) is going ahead with its annual Canada Day celebration, which will be live around Ashcroft on July 1, but in a very different format compared with years past.

The event usually takes place at the Heritage Park on Railway and features an honour guard, a bike parade, games, entertainment, free hot dogs, and cake and ice cream. This year’s celebration will be hitting the road, in quite literal fashion: a flatbed truck carrying local musicians will make stops at four different locations around Ashcroft, where they will perform a 15-minute set at each place. There will also be the singing of “O Canada”, with attendees invited to join in, and free, individually-wrapped DQ Dilly bars will be distributed to everyone in attendance.

“We wanted to make sure it wasn’t another thing that got cancelled,” says WRAPS president Jessica Clement. “It’s so important to have this. We felt like the social interaction — even the little we can have — was needed, because everything has gone virtual. We thought that this was something we could do while maintaining physical distancing and staying safe.”

There will be a private performance outside Jackson House at the Ashcroft Hospital, for residents of that site and nearby Thompson View Manor and Lodge. The first public event will be at 11:40 a.m. at the Ashcroft pool park, and at 12:20 p.m. the performers will be at the blue truck beside the Heritage Park on Railway Avenue. The final event will be at 1 p.m. in the parking lot of Sage Hills Church on the Mesa, and all attendees are asked to please respect physical distancing at the various sites.

Those who cannot attend one of the live events can view the celebration virtually, Clement says, noting that the HUB Online Network will be filming at one location and putting the video up on their Facebook page and YouTube channel.

WRAPS had been planning a fall 2020 theatre production, following their successful run of Agatha Christie’s A Murder is Announced in March. That production came close to being another victim of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting ban on gatherings of more than 50 people and the shutdown of many venues.

“We had tentative dates for the play — the middle of March 2020 — back in November last year, and picked the firm dates at the beginning of January, when we had cast the play,” says Clement. Cast and crew had to decide whether to do the play over one weekend or two, and the decision was made to have five performances over one weekend between March 12 and March 15.

It was during that week that shutdowns and lockdowns began occurring, and the following week came a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, as well as the closure of the production’s venue, the Ashcroft HUB. Had the following weekend been chosen as the performance dates, it’s likely that the entire production would have had to be cancelled without a single performance able to take place.

The continued ban on large gatherings, which currently extends through fall 2020 and is expected to last longer than that, has meant that the idea of a fall production has been shelved, but Clement says that WRAPS is keeping an eye on the situation in the hope of doing a spring 2021 play.

In the meantime, she has a teaser for people who are looking for the kind of homegrown entertainment options that WRAPS provides: “We have something in the works to keep your entertainment itch scratched.”

She hopes that people will enjoy seeing something live, not virtual, on Canada Day. “I think we’re missing that human connection. Even if you’re not near other people, you’re in that space with others, and that’s what people are needing and missing right now.”

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