TR Days Society was born August 25, 1988, long before Grizfest—what the society is best known for these days—was ever considered.
Sharon Bray explains why the group was formed in the early days. “The whole fall fair was the Grizzly Valley Days. It got started because everyone was new in town and it was a good way to meet people; baking bread, making jam and the fall fair. It got people into their gardens because everyone was new and there was new landscaping of the new houses, so that was the start of that.”
Why did the fall fair stop? Bray explains, “It did really well for years, so did the town, but the key people got less and less so it fell to the way side. Houses were for sale, we were getting a lot of press, but negative press, so we figured we had to draw people to town to see what we actually do have. Not just houses for fire sales. It worked! We were able to pull together, from what was left of Grizzly Valley days, into Grizfest, and we were able to get grants to get going with Grizfest and now we’re trying to get back to Grizzly Valley days!”
The town is now growing again and there are new faces pulling into town regularly. For this reason Bray says, “New houses, new landscaping, new people, and it’s the same reason as before. A good way to meet people is… over a chili contest.”
TR Days Society is now a group of 12 directors and a whole bunch of committee members, but they are always looking for more.
The main focus for the group nowadays is Grizfest and wow, has it grown since it started about 12 years ago. Joy MacKay, one of the directors for the group says, “Way back, Grizfest was to bring people to the community because the mines were closing and the housing sales, it was their way of bringing people to the community. It worked because now we bring too many people!”
As a not-for-profit, TR Days Society has a few different ways of raising money for the festival. During the year they do small fundraisers such as the pumpkin patch and dances. MacKay says, “One of our directors is the sponsorship manager. She goes out and canvases the businesses and gets donations. Some of the smaller ones do our t-shirt; on the back they’ll have the business name. They pay as little as $250 for that. Each year the funds fluctuate depending on the mines, some years less, some more.”
MacKay enjoys organizing the event and is mostly in charge of booking the bands. She says, “I network with the agency group we use to deal with the bands and ask about bands, they’ll tell us how much they cost and then we’ll give an offer make up contracts, get them booked. Our directors do various things. We all get together the weekend of and bust our butts for about 15 hours a day.”
This year one of the bands confirmed is a group called Toronto. The group was formed in the late 70s in, you guessed it, Toronto Ontario. They are of course, a classic Canadian rock band. MacKay says, “Classic rock seems to be a big draw, the year we had Loverboy was a big hit. We’re trying to find some country acts for this year and we try to get the bands the public suggests. It’s expensive to book some bands, but classic rock I find cheaper because they’re just happy to come out. New bands, they charge more and more.”
One of the issues with Grizfest last year had to do with where all of the visitors to town were going to stay. With no rooms at the Inn’s most people ended up down by the old baseball diamond in area which has been termed Tent City.
MacKay says, “The camping and accommodations have never really been Grizfest’s issue. It’s never came to this. I know about three years ago they started directing tenters to the old ball field. Now, it’s just a big tent city and the cops don’t even want to go in there. We don’t have any lighting. If we put a power plant in there it’s going to get smashed anyways. No control,” she continues, “So we definitely have to work together to figure something out. Some of our local kids go out to party. We’re going to have a hard time breaking away from tent city, but I wish they would have never done that. I wish they would have kept the motor home with a family, next to a tent. You’re not going to get these rowdies acting up if they’ve got families around them. As far as the board is concerned, our job is to bring people to the town. We’ve done that, now it’s up to them to accommodate.”
MacKay explains finding accommodations in the hotels is near impossible in the summer months. She says, “We’ll have to see what happens this year. At the Wilderness, the parking lot is always empty but they say they’re full. The contractors are paying and if they’re in there or not, what do they care? We’ve never been able to use any rooms at the Wilderness. Last year the Inn was totally booked. At Trend Mountain, I was able to get rooms for the artists, and they had a few rooms for the public.”
TR Days Society is swamped with work and is always looking for new people to come out and bring with them, their ideas.
MacKay says, “We have lots of committee members and more are welcome to come to the meetings, participate in votes, get artists names or suggestions. We have an AGM usually in October, but it’s always the same people. We get so much feedback, and we encourage people to come to the meetings and see what it’s about. During the week, we depend big time on volunteers. We have close to 200 people that come and if you volunteer for four hours you get a free day pass.”
The age cap for volunteers is 15 years old and they can gain some great experience.
MacKay explains, “For the stage, Brian has young ones who play guitar and stuff. He’ll bring them to do the stage, loading bands in and out, setting up guitars. They get lots of experience and it’s quite a thrill for them.”
Another thrill for many visitors was the year the beer garden’s capacity got bumped up. Having an RCMP member on board as a Director has proven to be very beneficial for the festival.
MacKay says, “Sergeant Render has been awesome. A dedicated committee member, he’s a full supporter. It will be a shame to lose him; I don’t think he’ll be here for next year. Hopefully the next guy will be just as supportive.”
With his help TR Days was able to expand capacity in the beer gardens. MacKay says, “We were able to expand the beer garden to 500 maximum capacity. That’s pretty well eliminated the lineup. There was one year where people stood in line for four hours and still never got in. People didn’t want to leave.”
A question MacKay has herself in regard to the festival this
year and the new development, which is almost up and ready is, “With the housing there now, is the district going to fence the field? If they do that we might be able to get a fairground license, so the adults can go and get a beer and then go and sit with their family and watch the show and have a beer. We wouldn’t need a designated area. I think it’s a safety issue too. I would love to see it fenced; I don’t know why it’s not in the first place.”
The group is always facing problems and having to trouble-shoot and with more people on board, who knows what would be possible for Grizfest.
MacKay says they need all the help they can get. For more information about volunteering contact:
email@example.com or call 242-4246.