Downtown Williams Lake is taking part in a little spring cleaning of its event schedule this year with the introduction of a new event.
Spring In To Downtown is being planned for Saturday, May 25 with more information to come as the date approaches and plans are finalized.
Stefanie Hendrickson, the current executive director of Downtown Williams Lake, sat down with the Tribune to discuss some of the early plans and hopes for this new event.
Since becoming executive director, Hendrickson has been pushing to restructure and change the way the BIA has traditionally done things. For years now, Downtown Williams Lake, formerly known as the Downtown Williams Lake Business Improvement Association, has supported local businesses and culture through the promotion of a wide range of events and programs.
This newest event, Hendrickson said, is designed to function as a spring festival for the community and businesses to enjoy. The details are still being hammered out as Hendrickson talks and plans with the various businesses in town that make up the “cornerstone of the downtown.”
“After a long, cold, Cariboo winter people are ready to get outside and here’s hoping we get some good weather (for this event) so it can be a beautiful, sunshiney day for exploring downtown and having a lot of fun,” Hendrickson joked. “We really want it to have a nice, close-knit, community feel and I think we can do that.”
Currently, she said she is talking and working with the Potato House Society, who plans to offer a children’s area for the event, in partnership with Hattie and Amos Entertainment. In addition, Hendrickson said they’re looking at some other community components to attract people downtown, in the vein of the parade and carolling that occurred during the Winter Lights Festival last year.
“We’re also toying with the idea of some kind of concert or showcase of downtown fashion businesses or something like that. We’re also hoping to have some buskers out on the street that day, just to create a little ambiance and just kind of really let people explore downtown,” Hendrickson said, adding they also plan to have some kind of midday madness component to the proceedings.
If Spring into Downtown goes as planned it will join Downtown Williams Lake’s roster of events they support and organize, including Trick’R’Treat Downtown with the Realm of Toys in October, Winter Lights Festival in December and Art Walk during the summer months. As spring was the only time they didn’t have a dedicated event, Hendrickson said it just made sense to plan one for then.
This latest change Hendrickson has made, however, will see the discounting of an old event. Historically, Hendrickson said that around the time of the Williams Lake Stampede they would organize and put on the Four Directions Festival, also known as the Stampede Street Party. However, when hosting it last year she said that she and other members of the organization realized there were issues and challenges that surrounded putting it on they couldn’t see a way to overcome.
“We did have a few really solid volunteers, who we really appreciated, but we just didn’t have the capacity of volunteers and staff to provide an event of that calibre for that many people,” Hendrickson said. “We feel like the community is volunteer drained that weekend.”
In addition, she said they realized many of the businesses they seek to promote and support with these events often close their doors for Stampede Weekend. As such they’ve decided to discontinue the Four Directions Festival in favour of Spring In To Downtown.
Hendrickson said that if any individuals or organizations are interested in reviving the Four Directions Festival/Stampede Street Party, Downtown Williams Lake is willing to provide advice on how to organize the event.