If Barrhead is to prosper in the coming years it has to embrace change.
The town has no option. In our interconnected world where so much is done at the touch of a button, people’s expectations today bear little resemblance to what they were 20 or 30 years ago.
This is an age where people want and demand more. They see what is available and adapt their lives accordingly. Like it or not Barrhead is part of a global marketplace where competition intensifies year by year as new technologies come on stream.
It is heartening, therefore, to hear voices in our community that recognize the ongoing need for Barrhead to enhance its appeal and remain a viable player in this marketplace.
Several of these voices come from the Barrhead & District Chamber of Commerce, which seems to have acquired a new dynamism with members like David Sawatzky, Dennis Donkers, Cheryle Morris, Ty Assaf and Mark Myrehaug.
One of the most powerful voices belongs to Chamber vice-president Sawatzky, owner of Sanderman’s Home Hardware store on Main Street and a relative newcomer to Barrhead. Speaking with the assurance of someone who has found his feet in the community, Sawatzky is fast becoming a champion of change. This paper applauds the energy he has brought to the Chamber and the town since he moved from Calgary. At last week’s Chamber meeting, he called for the Blue Heron Fair and Wildrose Rodeo to be jazzed up.
Recently Sawatzky suggested running of the bulls or bull soccer as a way of giving the Wildrose Rodeo some extra appeal.
Some may have had the image of bulls running through Main Street. But this was not what he had in mind. He was thinking of bulls running in the controlled environment of the Agrena. Is it wild? Yes. Is it a bit crazy? Perhaps. Is it dangerous? A little, but probably no more than crossing a busy intersection.
As Sawatzky points out the event has been a big success in Strathmore, a town of about 12,000 people in southern Alberta, always attracting a huge turnout. Nobody has been killed or seriously hurt.
People should remember that Barrhead has no divine right to the rodeo. The town has to apply to stage it. Reports have been coming in that Whitecourt and Drayton Valley are both interested in making the rodeo their own.
In the face of such competition Barrhead has to do something to justify its hold on the rodeo. It must give people a reason to keep coming to it. If not running of the bulls, then something else.
The status quo won’t cut it.
Another Chamber member who appears determined to make Barrhead a more exciting place to live and visit is Dennis Donkers.
Well known in the community as the owner of Barrhead Bakery, it is fitting he should be the one heading plans for “A Taste of Barrhead.” The idea is to give visitors a taste of the national dishes of up to 35 countries. Such an event has already proved a huge hit in Edmonton and Neerlandia. So why not in Barrhead? All it requires is the will.
Barrhead is fortunate to have such powerful voices in its midst, particularly with the Alberta 55-plus Summer Games drawing ever nearer and with it an opportunity to showcase the community. It is not enough, however, to listen, nod, smile and then do nothing.
The town should heed these voices.
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