ITCHY FEET PARTNERSHIP CELEBRATES 16TH YEAR

The history of Itchy Feet is interesting. 2009 brings to us one of the oldest and most successful partnerships in Tumbler Ridge: the Library and Wolverine Nordic Mountain Society. This may seem unusual to most as one faction is considered sedentary and the other kinetic. This is how it came to be?..

The onslaught of true winter doldrums can set in once Christmas, New Years, 10,000 Villages, the Banff Film Festival and all the festivities are over and the reality of a long cold isolated time sets in. A diversion is in order. Recognizing this, 16 years ago Dr Paul Jurgens decided to give the residents the option of leaving, if only for a short time, through what is also known as ?armchair travel?. The residents of Tumbler Ridge were treated to an evening away to different places through presentations in the welcoming ambiance of the Library by people who had had the opportunity to visit them.

For years there were about four presentations given each winter.

There was a steady following of 10 ? 16 who attended. In 2003 Tumbler Ridge Public Library won the Most successful Award for Peace Region Libraries based on our relationship with Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society and the production of Itchy Feet series. And then interest started to grow with each Itchy Feet season more people wanting to share their travel experiences. People who had immigrated here wishing to show where they had come from were also coming forward. With this came food, music, flags, national anthems, maps and hands on relics making the escape absolute and complete. It was not a matter of looking at some slides (yawning) of Mexico, South Africa or Costa Rica ? you were actually transported there.

Last year another need was voiced. The children wanted their own presentations: hence Kids Itchy Feet. We had the delight of two Japanese exchange students spending time here: Hiroki Tanashita and Mayu Shibata did a stellar job of sharing with us their lives in Japan. This coupled with the TRSS students travelling to Europe produced Teen Itchy Feet. And so in the 15th season of Itchy Feet, 2008 there were in total 13 evenings away with a total attendance of 735.

Other communities in the Peace Region are calling to see if they can borrow our speakers. And this year there are a number of speakers visiting Tumbler Ridge for the purpose of presenting. . The season now begins in October and carries through until spring.

We have had humanitarians such as Captain Eric Blackburn and Bill Hendley show of the work they are doing in Nicaragua and Africa, respectively. Great authors such as Don Pettit and Ben Gadd have visited. We have upcoming Betsy Trumpener of CBC radio and author of ?The Butcher of Penentang? this spring. The world renowned artist Peter Von Tiesenhausen will also grace Tumbler Ridge with his work in the Arctic and to do some skiing! There are record attendances set with the Helm family (South Africa) and the Kabzems family (Nepal) drawing in 145 to each.

It has been fun teaming with Prince George and their WNMS equivalent – the Caledonia Ramblers Hiking Club through Mike Nash. It has been hilarious to see Kevin Sharman and Al Tattersall near the top of two trees looking way down at a Grizzly bear prowling around temporarily interrupting their way to Bully Glacier. It has been perplexing attempting to wrap saris on guests. It has been positively yummy trying Albanian and Indonesian traditional dishes. It has been touching to see a tear shed during a National anthem. All in all the Itchy Feet experience to date has been fabulous.

Check next week?s paper for a listing of where all we will be going in 2009 for the 16th season of Itchy Feet. Keep up by linking into the Library website for updates http://tumblerridge.bclibrary.ca.

In between, travel the world through the Global Warrior http://www.globalroadwarrior.com/home.