The City of Brandon and eight other communities in Westman have received funding from the provincial government to keep community celebrations alive.
On Thursday, Obby Khan, Manitoba’s sport, culture and heritage minister, announced that $323,000 would be distributed to 67 communities across the province through the Community Celebrations Program of the Arts, Culture and Sport in Community Fund.
Department staff evaluated grant applications based on project goals and eligibility, feasibility and community impact. The intent of the $100-million program, which was established last August to support arts, culture and amateur sport, was to help communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Khan said.
“It was so hard for these organizations, groups and communities to operate. So our government was really focused on helping them,” the minister told the Sun in an interview on Friday. “It’s a phenomenal program, and I’m so proud of what the government’s done.”
The City of Brandon received $1,500 for its Winter Fest and $5,000 for National Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrations.
The funding for National Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrations, which will take place in June, will contribute to the hiring of entertainers, said Marc Alain, treasurer of the celebration committee.
This year’s Winter Fest took place March 4 at Brandon’s Community Sportsplex, featuring a variety of activities including sleigh rides, snowshoeing and live music. Grants such as the Arts, Culture and Sport in Community support the city’s ability to bring such events to the community, a spokesperson said.
“We are very grateful that Winter Fest was chosen as a grant recipient for our 2023 event, and we look forward to hosting additional community events in the future,” Merrilea Price, the city’s corporate communications officer wrote in an email.
Sadie McCauley, an organizer of the Russell Beef and Barley Festival scheduled for Oct. 1-9, said the $2,000 in funding will ensure the event is even more successful this year.
“It’s a bit of a homecoming. Most of the university kids get to come home,” McCauley said. “It’s a really important piece of our local community.”
The Alonsa Manitoba Centennial Homecoming Celebration, happening Aug. 11-13, received $5,000, which will help in many ways, said organizer Charlene Mozdzen.
“Maybe we can have different things, more things,” she said. “It’s very important. We’ve made (it to) 100 years, and that means a lot to a small community. Hopefully, we can get a lot of people coming home.”
The Rossburn Recreation Commission’s Canada Day event has been bolstered with $5,000, meaning the celebration will be even bigger and better than in past years, said Alicia Grassinger, secretary with the rec commission.
“We’re trying to make our [fireworks] bigger … and we do a drive-in movie now, and we’re bringing in a clown,” she said.
While the celebration has slowed down in the last few years coming out of the pandemic, the commission is hoping more people will come out to ring in Canada Day this year.
“We’re hoping to make it bigger ever year that we can,” Grassinger said.
Ensuring that funding for community celebrations was spread out across Manitoba and didn’t just focus on Winnipeg was important to the provincial government, Khan said.
“This program was designed with the scope of [all of] Manitoba,” he said. “So there’s funding for communities all across Manitoba.”
Of all the events he plans to attend, Khan said he’s most excited to take in Melita’s Banana Festival and their famous banana splits.
“I’m going to be there,” he said.
The Sun contacted the Fort Dauphin Museum Inc., the Heartland Recreation Commission, Melita Banana Days, Boissevain Street Fest and the Town of Carberry but didn’t receive a reply by press time.
By Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Mar 11, 2023 at 08:51