Lac du Bonnet Canada Day fireworks in jeopardy if Lions can't recruit new members 0

Brian Choptain

The Lac du Bonnet Canada Day fireworks attract thousands of people every year. PHOTO BY MARC ZIENKIEWICZ

The Lac du Bonnet Canada Day fireworks attract thousands of people every year. PHOTO BY MARC ZIENKIEWICZ

New government rules on when July 1 fireworks must take place have resulted in the Lac du Bonnet Lions losing a $5,000 grant from the Harper government.

“This year, the federal government changed the rules, saying that the fireworks must be on July 1, where before it had to be within one week of the date,” said Len Woodworth, president of the Lac du Bonnet Lions.

This has a huge effect on the Lions, since the fireworks take place on the closet Saturday to July 1 each year. In future, this means that unless July 1 falls on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, the Lions will not be able to access the grant.

No reason for the change has been given to the Lions. It is likely that this change will have little effect on cities, but will have a big effect on rural towns.

The Lac du Bonnet fireworks are one of the big draws for people who come out to the town. The number of people attending on the long weekend has now grown to an estimated 20,000 people.

“We get a deal on the price of the fireworks, the local fire department volunteers their hours and Molson used to give a financial contribution and donation of shirts for the event,” said Woodworth, who explained that the cost of the fireworks would be closer to $60,000 rather than the current $30,000 if it wasn’t for all the volunteer hours and discount for the fireworks.

This year's fireworks will go ahead as planned, but the changes could have implications for the future.

A greater concern to Woodworth is the aging volunteer base that put on the July 1 events.

The event each year requires 75 to 100 volunteers and many hours.

“If new people don’t get involved, in three to five years it will start declining,” said Woodworth, who pointed out that many Lions and volunteers who work the event are seniors.

“This could result in a significant hit to the community and the local economy.”

A loss of one or two of the events like the parade, the Miss Minnewawa pageant or the car show could result in the midway pulling out, as there would not be enough people coming out to Lac du Bonnet.

Everything from the MS walk, the grad scholarship, community centre, the Rod Demoline golf tournament, Christmas hampers, the annual fishing derby, and donations to the local food bank would feel the effects.

Woodworth explained that right now the Lions are working with Allison Boxshall of the Winnipeg River Rec District to provide funds for children to attend summer camps.

The Lions strategy to recruit new members has been by word of mouth, personal contacts, and getting their message out through local people.

One of the difficulties for the Lions is that people are taking the long weekend event and all the things that the Lions are doing for granted, he says.

“We are trying to get the word out that we need new people,” said Woodworth, who hopes his prediction for the future of the Lions and July 1 weekend will not come true.

 

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