The Clinton Annual Ball—which celebrates its 150th anniversary in May 2017—was almost a victim of its own success. The event is held at the Clinton Memorial Hall, which accommodates 160 people at full capacity (and even that is a bit of a squeeze); but close to 300 people have applied for tickets for next year’s event, which forced organizers to come up with a Plan B.
“We sold out for 2017’s ball before the 2016 one was held,” says Clare Warner, chair of the Clinton Annual Ball Committee. “And we had a wait list of 130 people.” She says that while in any given year 80 per cent of those attending are from out of town and 20 per cent are local, the committee saw more local interest for 2017.
“Many people who were without tickets have been coming for many years,” says Warner. “They didn’t have an opportunity to buy tickets because they sold out so fast. We wanted to allow these people to come.”
The committee went in search of a larger venue, casting their eyes on the arena at the 47 Mile Sports Complex. However, the cost of using the venue was far beyond the financial reach of the committee, given all the additional expenses; notably the cost of renting flooring to cover the arena’s surface.
Recently, however, a fairy godmother stepped forward to fund the rental of the floor: Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart. With that funding secured, the committee has approached Clinton council for free rental of the arena for an expanded 2017 Clinton Ball, as well as free rental of the tables and chairs at the Memorial Hall and those usually stored in the bandshell. The request was deferred to staff, who have asked the committee to write a letter asking for a grant-in-aid.
Warner says that the committee is still finalizing the entertainment, but that crowd favourite The Evergreen Drifters—who have played off-and-on at the event over the last 15 years—will be returning. “A lot of people come to the ball just to dance to their music.”
The Ladies Auxiliary of Clinton Legion #194 will once more be catering the event, probably using the kitchens in both the Memorial Hall and the Legion due to the “really, really limited” kitchen space at the arena. “They will face some challenges.”
The committee is still taking names on the waiting list; go to www.clintonannualball.com for details. Invitations to next year’s ball—believed to be the oldest continuously run event of its kind in the country—have been sent to some illustrious names, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Governor-General David Johnston, Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon, and Premier Christy Clark, who hopes to be in attendance.
“We’ve already heard that the Governor-General can’t come because of another committment,” says Warner. “Often with these people they don’t let you know until closer to the event, when their schedules are finalized.”
The Historic Hat Creek stagecoach will once more be there to bring attendees to the venue. “It’s going to be a wonderful event,” says Warner. “We have some challenges because of the arena, but we’re going to make it spectacular.
“It’s exciting to know that people are coming to celebrate this historic
event with us.”