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SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. — Three months earlier than the P.E.I. Potato Blossom Pageant was set to return, it’s wanting unlikely the occasion will occur this yr.
For the primary time since O’Leary’s annual pageant started greater than 50 years in the past, no one has stepped as much as set up and run it – a lot to the frustration of former board chair Katie MacLennan.
“It’s a tragic day,” stated MacLennan. “This may have been the 54th yr for it.”
Forward of the occasion, MacLennan and the opposite board members determined to step down. Lots of them have younger youngsters, volunteer with different committees, or in any other case have been unable to decide to the pageant this yr, stated MacLennan.
On April 5, the pageant’s volunteers held a public assembly, trying to discover group members to take their place.
MacLennan stated round 20 to 30 chairs had been arrange – except for a politician and a member of the media, just one particular person confirmed.
“One group member can’t run a factor, we will’t anticipate that group member to do this,” stated MacLennan. “She simply got here for data … No one, actually, was capable of do something.”
The board plans to carry a second assembly within the fall to see if anybody has an curiosity in taking up for 2024. If no one steps ahead then, the way forward for the occasion could be in jeopardy.
The wrestle to search out volunteers to assist set up the pageant is just not a brand new one.
When MacLennan first raised her hand for the place, she did so after her aunt – a fellow volunteer – requested her to. Then, the board wanted a president, and when no one stepped up, the function was hers to take.
“I stated, ‘Properly, anyone has to step up and sort of take the reins or the pageant’s gonna die,’” stated MacLennan. “And that was (4) years in the past.”
Final yr, the board had put out a name in search of individuals to assist all through the pageant; as an alternative, they discovered only a couple keen to pitch in for an occasion or two.
A easily run pageant would ideally have about 20 volunteers, she added.
Though MacLennan was disheartened by the dearth of curiosity this yr, wanting on the earlier years’ developments, she was not shocked.
“I feel I can communicate for the entire board by saying we weren’t actually shocked,” she stated. “However we’re nonetheless unhappy.”
Native festivals was once the lifeblood of small cities. As of late, although, there are extra actions and households are extra open to journey, lowering the necessity to keep for small-scale community-oriented occasions, she stated.
“They’re not such an enormous deal anymore, sadly, they usually actually needs to be.”
“I want they have been a precedence in communities once more, and I don’t know methods to get that again.”
Way forward for the pageant
Regardless of the present lack of volunteers, the choice made on the April 5 assembly doesn’t must be the ultimate phrase.
If sufficient individuals come along with a last-minute curiosity in forming a four-member board within the subsequent few weeks, MacLennan stated they may have simply sufficient time to place the Potato Blossom Pageant collectively.
“That will be nice,” stated MacLennan. “It’s not that it could possibly’t be executed, however it’s extraordinarily onerous to do it.”
Eric Gavin, mayor of O’Leary, was equally dissatisfied to listen to concerning the occasion’s cancellation.
“It’s an occasion that ought to occur within the city of O’Leary,” he stated.
“It’s a disgrace.”
The pageant means “fairly a bit” for the city, he stated, bringing residents collectively in addition to drawing individuals to the group. Nonetheless, he understands the board members’ selections to step away.
Even when the occasion can’t return in full, Gavin hopes a couple of group members or teams can pool collectively to at the least proceed it partially – be it the pageant or the washer toss occasion.
“There’s folks that sit up for this Potato Blossom Pageant,” stated Gavin. “It was once that folks got here house, plan their holidays round this. I used to listen to individuals saying that. It’s gone for this summer season, (however) hopefully anyone picks up among the occasions.”
Kristin Gardiner is a reporter with the SaltWire Community in Prince Edward Island. She might be reached by e mail at [email protected] and adopted on Twitter @KristinGardiner.