SOUL PICNIC – A family enjoys a picnic on a beautful summer's day.
The summer is winding down and everyone is slowly getting ready to head back to school but there's still one last order of business. The annual River Valley Picnic is returning this weekend for its fourth year of food, festivities and fun for all.
The Spirit of St. Albert Society is once again organizing the event that started in 2011 to celebrate the city's sesquicentennial. Then, it was held throughout the entire river valley but even though it's sticking to Lions Park, it still has the concept of gathering the whole of the community at its heart.
Heather Johnson, the chairperson of the society, said that means always getting the kids involved and always keeping things local. This year, for instance, the picnic will have all four of this city's Scouting troops – the 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 12th St. Albert Scouts – helping out, offering several demonstration activities and even working to earn some of their badges.
“This year, we've done a better partnership with the Scouts. They are going to be running the carnival games,” Johnson said.
“They're going to be participating a little bit more this year and they are going to run their registration day. I know that some of the Scouts are going to be speaking because … part of their requirements is to have them do some public speaking. I've organized some time in the schedule of the entertainment for them to have an opportunity to do that because I think that's important.”
This is the largest event that will see the future leaders and self-reliant individuals collaborate on a community project over the course of the year.
When the kids aren't working to make sure the picnic runs smoothly, they'll have lots of opportunities to play. There will be the usual entertainments like bouncy castles, a balloon fairy and sparkle tattoo artists. Moostoos the mascot will be there, as will representatives from the St. Albert Fire Department, the local RCMP detachment and the military.
Entertainment will be provided by Martin Kerr and some local talents from Visionary College.
But most of the kids are probably interested in going to take in the games. Johnson said that the carnival games will return but if they want to play, they first have to pay, she said, referring to the small price of admission in the form of the gift of non-perishable food.
“Our biggest focus is to get everybody to bring a donation for the food bank. In order to play the carnival games, they need to bring a donation.”
Every donor gets a stamp card in return, giving the holder six plays for the carnival games, meaning six chances for prizes. Organizers are hoping to bring in more food than last year. The 2013 event amassed approximately 250 kg of food and $500 for the St. Albert Food Bank.
Johnson expects to have a good crowd come out just like last year too.
“Last year, all totaled, we probably had about 2,000 … not all at the same time,” she joked. “The picnic isn't something that they come and spend four hours at. They'll come, do the games, do what they need and then go. We had people coming and going so it didn't look like it was very busy … but there were lots of people there.”
The River Valley Picnic takes place Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at Lions Park. Call 780-887-2609 or visit www.spiritofstalbert.ca for more information.
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