Fort Macleod’s 140th anniversary celebration on Aug. 7 is taking shape.
Economic development manager Virginia Wishart last week provided council with an update on planning.
“It should be lots of fun,” Wishart said.
Activities will take place at The Fort — Museum of the North West Mounted Police, Main Street, the 1884 North West Mounted Police barracks provincial historic site and Midnight Stadium.
Tentative activities at the Fort Museum include a demonstration by the Southern Alberta Horse Artillery, 18th century clothing and weapons demonstrations and the museum’s own Musical Ride.
There will be a barbecue in the afternoon at the Fort Museum and a dedication ceremony for RCMP Assistant Commissioner Craig MacMillan, who was raised in nearby Claresholm.
Activities with the theme “The Last Hoorah Before the Law Comes to Town” are planned on Main Street in the afternoon.
Suggested activities including bluegrass and old-time music, a variety show with dancers, actors and singers, and mock gunfight.
A bagpiper will lead a parade includes the Fort Museum’s mounted patrol from the east end of Main Street to Midnight Stadium.
Evening activities at Midnight Stadium will include Smokin’ Aces Trick Riders, Leon Goodstriker’s Indian Games, a performance by the Fort Museum’s mounted patrol.
The RCMP Musical Ride will then take center stage, followed by a meet-and-greet and possibly a dance or open stage.
“I’ve been pretty busy trying to get this organized,” Wishart said.
Wishart told council the marketing plan targets the MD of Willow Creek to avoid conflicting with Musical Ride performances in Pincher Creek, Cardston and Lethbridge that same week.
The campaign will target the MD of Willow Creek and the towns of Granum, Claresholm, Stavely and Nanton, and the hamlet of Parkland.
Wishart said residents of the Piikani Nation and Blood Tribe will also be encouraged to attend the Fort Macleod event.
Wishart will use social media, the event Web site www.macleodproud.com, flyers sent out with utility bills, posters, mail drops, street banners and outdoor media in Fort Macleod.
Wishart does not plan to advertise in traditional media such as TV, radio and print.
Wishart has combined the Macleod clan tartan, known as “Loud Macleod” for its red, black and yellow colours with images of the North West Mounted Police and RCMP Musical Ride.
Council questioned plans for a $35 a plate dinner for visiting dignitaries, noting the Town of Fort Macleod has already budgeted $10,000 for the event.
Kathy Dietrich, a Fort Macleod resident who was in the gallery in council chambers, joined the conversation and urged council to be generous in its support.
“If we’re going to do this, we should do it with class,” Dietrich said.
Catherine Woodman, another Fort Macleod resident, wondered how council decided to invite the RCMP Musical Ride and stage the anniversary celebration.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Woodman added. “I would just like to have fiscal responsibility.”
Coun. Michael Dyck said Fort Macleod was invited to host the Musical Ride when other communities dropped out.
Woodman was surprised council made that decision without first holding a public meeting.
“How much is the Town of Fort Macleod writing a cheque for?” asked Woodman, who was not previously aware of anniversary plans.
Mayor Rene Gendre advised Woodman council had agreed to spend $10,000.
Dyck told Woodman news of the Musical Ride and anniversary had previously been reported in The Macleod Gazette.
“This is a show for this town,” Dyck said. “I’m really upset you’re questioning us spending some money.”
Woodman stressed she was not challenging council’s decision, only seeking information. She apologized to Dyck if her questions offended him.
Council gave approval in principle of the plans that are being made, but tabled a decision on the VIP dinner.