Sugar Cane will be the place to be to celebrate Father’s Day weekend in style here in the lakecity.
In addition to the 35th annual Father’s Day Powwow, starting off unofficially Friday night and kicking into full gear Saturday at 1 p.m., the Williams Lake Indian Band is also hosting the second annual Father’s Day Fastball Tournament. These two events will be free for anyone to attend and come with no charge.
WLIB Chief Willie Sellars is excited for both events, particularly the fastball tournament which he is helping to organize. So far they have six teams of men and four teams of women ready to take to the diamond this weekend, with teams coming out from as far away as Parksville.
Sellars said they chose to begin hosting a fastball tournament last year for two main reasons, the first being they wanted to show off their freshly upgraded baseball diamond, down Mission Road on the first left past the bridge, now complete with stadium lights, a new infield and new dugouts. The second reason was that many in the community, including Sellars, wanted to see a return of fastball as a sport to Williams Lake.
“Fastball used to be big business in Williams Lake and it died, for whatever reason and we’re trying to revive it. We have this gorgeous diamond, it’s the nicest diamond in the whole Cariboo Chilcotin and why wouldn’t we want to showcase it and show the beauty of it?” Sellars said.
As a player himself, Sellars said competitive sporting events like this really help bring the community together, especially amongst the older youth of the community. Creating places and activities for the community if important to the WLIB and something they strive to do in a variety of ways.
There will be a concession running throughout the tournament, Sellars said, with games starting at 5 p.m. Friday evening and running throughout the weekend, Sellars remarking he’s hoping to get in as many games as possible in that time.
Happening at the same time, of course, annual Father’s Day Powwow and Sellars said the timing of his fastball tournament is no coincidence. The powwow used to be there marquee event of the year and Sellars said that he and the WLIB are working to build more complimentary events around it to turn the weekend into a showcase of all the Sugar Cane community has to offer.
He has fond memories of attending the powwow himself as a youth, meeting up with friends, running around, eating sweets and playing stickball. Sellars added that their powwow arbour, located in the Chief Will-Yum Campground, is even more beautiful than the baseball diamond and recently received a new dancing surface.
“It’s just a great way to bring people together. We’re not making money off of these things, they cost us money but we realize in order to have a healthy community we need to get people together and have them experience events. Get them out of their homes and out doing fun things,” Sellars said.
Anyone planning to come to either event should bring bug spray of some kind, Sellars advised.
Bringing people together from across the Cariboo is important to longtime powwow organizers Virginia Gilbert and Mary Alphonse. The two have been organizing the traditional powwow since the start for the last 35 years and said they’re looking forward to doing the same this year.
“We like to acknowledge the fathers because, you know, all year round they do things for the family and we kind of put them aside and forget them, so we want to acknowledge them (at this event). We have a big cake for them and get them to go around a circle and shake one another’s hands,” Gilbert said.
The Father’s Day Powwow is also a great way to make their drums and songs come alive again after being silent for much of the winter, she said. At a traditional powwow, there will be jingle dress dancers, grass dancers, fancy dancers and all kinds of traditional dancers from all over.
Officially the powwow begins with the grand entry at 1 p.m. on Saturday, however, they said it may start late Friday evening, depending on how many dancers and drummers have already assembled. Stick games will also be happening throughout the event, with a tent aside for that purpose.
Alphonse said she didn’t know much about powwows back when she first started organizing them back before they had a proper dance arbour. At the time they had right in the community and made their own arbour with branches and other materials from the surrounding area.
“The powwow is for anybody, any race it doesn’t really matter it’s not just for us if anyone wants to come they’re welcome,” Alphonse said.
This year they said people are coming from all over B.C. for the powwow and even Alberta, with many making it a summer trip. Alphonse said that they’ll be feeding people breakfast and supper for free on Saturday and Sunday, with people being told to fend for themselves for lunch. As this is a traditional powwow they won’t be charging anyone for admission, though they will have a concession setup throughout the weekend, as well as a variety of traditional vendors from across B.C.