Children watch the 2017 Seafest parade, an event organized by Prince Rupert Special Events. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Special Events numbers drop, but festivals must go on

In the wake of the Prince Rupert Special Events AGM, the board is seeking new members

In the last year, the Prince Rupert Special Events Society (PRSES) has lost half of their directors.

“We’ve had a number of our directors either move away, retire or had to resign for personal reasons. Out of 10 of us at one point, we’re down to five,” vice president Bev Killbery said.

There are four core members, including Killbery, special events coordinator Joy Sundin, as well as former president, 75-year-old Barb Gruber.

After the 2017 Sailpast — the first in the Winterfest’s history that the land events were cancelled — the society faced some backlash from the community. Many said they didn’t know the society was looking for volunteers, but Killbery and Sundin said they are always looking for helping hands. All of the posters for their events have a call out to volunteers.

“Basically what we’re looking for is we need planning and organizing people,” Sundin said. “We need people to help make those festivals happen, because if we don’t have planners and organizers, then we don’t have festivals. That’s what happened at the Sailpast. That is exactly why there were no events at the waterfront; there was nobody there to plan and organize.”

Despite the backlash, no new members have joined the PRSES board since the Sailpast. Sundin and Killbery said the working board, which plans, coordinates and then physically oversees the community festivals, is a fun one to be a part of. They joke about their greying hair, blame their short statures for struggling to put up tents on their own and keep up with the on-goings of the community.

READ MORE: No land events for Winterfest’s Sailpast 2017

Board members will receive training in event organization and management, learning tried-and-true lessons from the two women who have more than 20 years of experience each. In fact, PRSES receives about five calls a year from other societies and corporations across B.C. asking for advice on planning events.

Sundin and Killbery said they’ve seen their volunteers on all levels gain new confidence in their abilities, time and again. It feels good, they said, to give back to their community — but they need support.

“We have the skills we can pass along, we just need new energy, new ideas,” Sundin said.

READ MORE: Heart of Our City – The fuse to the festivals

The next board meeting is their AGM on Feb. 20 at the Prestige Hotel, starting at 7 p.m. All are welcome to join, and new members are welcome year-round.

Posters for the 26th Children’s Festival are now up around Prince Rupert. Also coming up from the society this year is the 40th annual Seafest.

“People don’t realize how fortunate Prince Rupert is to have these community festivals,” Sundin said.

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Children watch the 2017 Seafest parade, an event organized by Prince Rupert Special Events. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

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