Local Cooperatives buoyed by success of 'Super Saturday' celebration
Three-hour event draws huge crowds to Agrena
As staff from local Co-operatives prepared for Saturday’s big party, they may well have experienced a few jitters. What if nobody came? What if everyone went to the lakes?
Any nerves, however, were quickly soothed by the sight of people arriving at the Agrena before the scheduled 1 p.m. start.
And they kept on coming, and coming, and coming … ensuring three hours of fun would turn into the International Year of the Cooperatives Super Saturday, an event that may, just may, become an annual tradition.
“This is as good as we hoped for,” said Barrhead and Districts Co-op general manager Allan Cote, his face wreathed in smiles. “It is what we envisioned.”
“It has been great. Everybody is having a fabulous time,” said Don Smith, a Barrhead Town councillor and the Co-op’s meat manager.
“The turnout has been awesome,” said Servus Credit Union branch manager Jason McElroy, who thanked the Town council for its support.
How many came? More than 1,000 seemed to be a popular guesstimate, certainly enough to prompt periodic checks that the barbeque had enough hot dogs and burgers. There was even a feeling that had the weather not been so good more might have come, preferring the Agrena to water sports at a lake.
Why did they come? Everything was free – free hamburgers, free popcorn, free drinks, free activities, free entertainment. There was also a chance for children to enter a draw and win a Roxy Theatre movie for themselves and nine friends.
Free, of course, is a musical word to everyone’s ears, particularly with such an array of attractions inside and outside the Agrena: bouncy castles, face painting, a fish pond, ladder toss, washer toss, water targets, bean bag throw, balloon artist, magician, mini golf, swimming, a petting zoo and emergency vehicles for children to explore. But it was more than that. Many would have come anyway to see Connie Lefebvre and “Fly” youth musicians illuminate the Agrena stage with their talent, or 12-year-old Barrhead schoolgirl Jordan Wilson sing “Born To Be Somebody” and “Invincible” or Winnipeg’s Marc Battle perform children’s songs.
Many would gladly have paid to watch loved ones or friends grace the arena in one of Footworks Dance Academy’s 12 acts, which featured such characters as hooded gangstas engaged in the “battle of the beat”, Sylvester the puddy tat and Tweety the canary. The tap dancing alone of Selena Jammaz would have been worth the price of admission.
Many, too, were quite happy to come out to support the local Co-operatives in a celebratory year – 2012 is the International Year of the Co-operatives when Co-ops worldwide inform people how they differ from other businesses and how they support communities.
“I always find the Co-op staff friendly and helpful,” said Alethea Ohm, who was with seven-year-old daughter, Abby. “They always have what I am looking for and their produce is always fresh.”
Audrey Shield said she was the 366th member of the local Co-op. In other words, she has been with them a long, long time.
“I think it’s nice to see people getting together like this,” she said of the IYC celebration.
For Marie Hickey the highlights were the Footworks’ thoughtfully choreographed acts, performed on stage or across the floor. Youngsters moved to a wide variety of rhythms, from musical numbers to hip-hop.
“I really enjoyed the dancing,” said Hickey, who hails originally from Saskatchewan and has lived in Barrhead three years.
A more recent arrival to Barrhead is Dr. Ramy Gurges, a specialist of anaesthesia with 12 years’ experience. He attended the event with wife, Ereny Wahba and daughters, Rana and Rena. “It is a lot of fun,” he said as Rana and Rena rushed to the petting zoo outside the Agrena. “There is a great variety of activities. The children are really enjoying the animals.”
The event can be added to the reasons why Dr. Gurges wants to stay in Barrhead. He is currently looking for a house.
Among the dignitaries who attended was Barrhead County councillor Bill Lane, who had spent part of the day at Thunder Lake.
“I think this is a good thing for the community,” he said. “The weather has been great.”
The plaudits were vindication for months of planning by Barrhead & Districts Co-op, Barrhead District Seed Co-op, Central Alberta REA, Jensen Agencies the Co-operators, Neerlandia Co-op, Servus Credit Union, Ste. Anne Gas Co-op, UFA (Mayerthorpe, Barrhead, Westlock), Westlock Terminals, Wild Rose REA.
Shortly after 4 p.m. on Saturday, the Servus Credit Union’s McElroy took the stage to thank people for their support.
He asked them to clap their hands if they wanted the local Co-ops to organize a similar event every year.
The response? Thunderous applause.
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