Once a year, cow-print balloons pop up around Prince Rupert’s Cow Bay, leading everyone down the city’s own version of a yellow brick road to a day of festivities.
But the annual celebration of Cow Bay Days takes more than a day to put together, as Connie Jack can attest to. One of the shindig’s organizers, Jack said it’s taken the team of volunteers at least 40 hours to get ready for the big day — not including July 7 itself.
“Busy. Very busy,” Jack said of preparing for the event. “During Cow Bay Days I don’t even think, it’s just one task after another. But it is a lot of fun to see the kids enjoying themselves and their reaction to Moolissa and the cows.”
Moolissa, of course, is the moo-maid mascot. Dreamed up by the merchants of Cow Bay, Moolissa is a cow-mermaid cross. She joined the party about five years ago. Jack became involved about three years before that.
She starts by emailing all of the businesses in the area, then organizing those who are interested. This year’s 15 merchants each pitch in something for free, and kids and their families can enjoy a bouncy castle, golf putt, fishing game, Frisbee throw, bean bag toss, hopscotch, and snakes and ladders.
“On the day, we start off about 7:30 in the morning, setting up the things in the parking lot. Part of the slogan is to follow the cow balloon to participating businesses, so we have to make sure the balloons are blown up, delivered and tied up outside their business,” Jack said. Then she organizes volunteers and prizes. Finally, by 11 a.m., they’re ready for the 200-plus people who will come check out the event.
Bringing everyone together, Jack said, is one of the best parts of celebrating where she works.
“It’s beautiful down here,” she said. “It’s a very quaint feeling. It’s like our own little city within the city.”
Jack has lived in Prince Rupert for most of her life and has worked at Udder Bags (in Cow Bay, of course) for the last decade. As the store manager, Jack said she loves meeting new people who come in every day. She orders and receives their colourful collection of women’s apparel.
“It’s like Christmas time when you’re opening a box,” she said. “I like meeting people and helping them find the thing that they think is perfect.”
When she’s not in the Cow Bay area, Jack loves to cook. From September until June every year, she shares her cooking skills at the Catholic church on Sundays. She’s known for her chili soup and turkey rice soup, which she serves to anyone who shows up.
“A lot of the homeless and seniors, some single people who are just looking for company. It’s open to anybody and everybody.”
Even though she doesn’t attend service at the Catholic church, Jack began helping out when their soup kitchen was short staffed.
“I thought, ‘Well, I’ll do this for a while’ and I just haven’t given it up.”
That was several years ago, she adds with a smile.
On Cow Bay Day, the food made there also gives back to a good cause. This year, there will be the popular Filipino kebab stand, which raises funds for an orphanage in the Philippines. Another food truck donates proceeds to the homeless. A bake sale and barbecue at Breakers Pub gives to the Prince Rupert Wildlife Shelter.
“The homeless in our own community is something that we’re happy to support, and the wildlife shelter. The couple that has the wildlife shelter, they’re really sweet and they run it all on their own pension cheques, so we’re really happy to help them,” Jack said.
“It just celebrates where we get to work. It’s a unique area so we get to celebrate that and give back to the community. It still gives that small town feel that we have,” she said.
“My favourite part is organizing and working together with others.”