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Fort Macleod chosen to host arts celebration

Allied Arts Council of Fort Macleod prsident Maria Rishea with Culture and Community Spirit Minister Lindsay Blackett. An event to announce the appointment of Fort Macleod and other community centres as Alberta Days Days feature celebration sites was held last week in Edmonton.

The Allied Arts Council will help Fort Macleod residents take a trip back in time next fall to the earliest days of the community.
The three-day celebration from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 will showcase arts and culture with a definite old-time theme.
Fort Macleod last week was named one of five feature celebration sites for 2011 Alberta Arts Days.
“We have so much history behind us and so many groups around us,” Allied Arts president Maria Rishea said. “We want to put them all together.”
The province is putting $375,000 into planning the free, family-oriented arts celebrations in 49 communities.
Other winning feature celebration bids were submitted by Creative Airdrie Society, Calgary Public Libraries, Blue Quills First Nations College in St. Paul and the Arts and Culture Council of Strathcona County.
Allied Arts decided to submit a bid to become one of five feature celebration sites, involving groups such as the Empress Theatre Society and The Fort — Museum of the North West Mounted Police in the bid.
“It sounded really exciting,” Rishea said of hosting a three-day celebration.
Culture and Community Spirit Minister Lindsay Blackett is hopeful events such as the one in Fort Macleod will get more people involved in the arts.
“Alberta Arts Days is about family, community, diversity and cultural vibrancy,” said Blackett, who will attend the Fort Macleod celebration. “It’s a celebration of everything great about this province. The support and participation of all communities, governments, businesses, organizations and individuals is required to truly showcase Alberta’s creative spirit.”
Allied Arts spent a month developing a plan and budget for the Fort Macleod celebration, and getting other groups on board.
“We got more and more excited as planning went along,” Rishea said.
“Fort Macleod Steps Back to 1874” begins Friday, Sept. 30 with exhibits by local artists in downtown stores. People will have a chance to win prizes in a scavenger hunt involving the artists’ displays.
At 12 noon at The Fort — Museum of the North West Mounted Police there will be a re-enactment of an 1874 meeting between Col. James Macleod, scout Jerry Potts and Blackfoot Chief Crowfoot.
Following the re-enactment there will be demonstrations at the Fort Museum by blacksmiths, wheelwrights, leathersmiths, quilters and other old-time craftspeople.
At 2 p.m. the Empress Theatre will offer a free screening of “The Lone Ranger” starring Roy Rogers.
A live band will play Ragtime music from 2-6 p.m. on Main Street.
The first day of the celebration wraps up at 8 p.m. at the community hall with a family hoe down at which people must dress western or risk going to jail.
There will be square dance lessons at the hoe down, along with sasparilla.
A Hutterite breakfast will be served at 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 1 at the 1884 North West Mounted Police Barracks provincial historic site. There will be tours of the site, featuring mini dramas played out by actors.
The demonstrations by old-time craftspeople continue from 12 noon to 5 p.m. at The Fort — Museum of the North West Mounted Police.
From 12 noon to 5 p.m. on Main Street there will be black powder demonstrations, along with a shootout with whisky traders.
People will also have the chance to meet Col. James Macleod, Chief Crowfoot and Jerry Potts.
A free shuttle bus will take people to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump from Fort Macleod to learn about First Nations history.
At 7 p.m. there will be a live main stage event at the Empress Theatre featuring can-can dancers, Vaudeville acts, plays, First Nations dancing, the Red Coats play and belly dancing.
An ecumenical church service at the 1884 North West Mounted Police Barracks provincial historic site starts the activities at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2.
An old-fashioned family picnic will take place from 12 noon to 4 p.m. at the barracks site, with people encouraged to bring their own picnic lunches.
There will be a pie auction conducted by the church ladies, banjo music, hot dogs and root beer for sale, dancing to old-time fiddle music, three-legged races, tug ‘o’ wars and gunny sack races.
“It’s all supposed to have an old-fashioned flair,” Rishea said.
Putting together a winning plan took a lot of work, and more will be needed to pull off the celebration.
“We need a lot of help,” Rishea said. “There’s going to be a lot of need for volunteers.”

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