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Volunteers integral to Festival atmosphere


Be careful when going for a coffee with the co-chair of the Steveston Salmon Festival; you might end up in charge of one of the event highlights.


That was the sentiment expressed by Isabelle Clements, who, after a short trip to Starbucks with Kirstine Dickson, ended up running this year’s carnival at the famous Canada Day festival.


Clements, however, was more than happy to help Dickson and the community she’s called home for the last 15 years, especially after hearing how this year’s 150th birthday event was going to be one of the biggest in its long history.


And, although it’s her first foray into getting her hands dirty behind the scenes at the festival, it’s by no means her maiden voyage into volunteering her time to run events of a sizable nature.


“(Kirstine) said they were going to be needing lots of help, so I kind of jumped in,” said Clements, a professional, working mom of two boys, age nine and 13.


“Been going to the festival for at least 12 years, so it’s nice to have an active role in it. I had ran another large scale event (an international airline race) in a previous life and thought it would be fun to get more deeply involved with my community.”


Clements, a self-proclaimed fitness fanatic who lives in Westwind with her husband, Scott – who’s a Steveston London secondary teacher – said people can expect to see 10 different inflatables; mini-golf and 15 midway games at the this year’s festival carnival.


And they’re going to use tickets for carnival-goers instead of all-day bands, so “everyone can get a good chance at the fun,” she added.


“We obviously want people to come, but didn’t want a situation where there were huge line-ups.”


A recent experience helping to run a friend’s daughter’s dry grad also laid the foundations for this year’s carnival.


“At the festival over the years, they have had carnival-like events, some good, some not so good,” said Clements.


“At my friend’s daughter’s dry grad, a company that she had hired for the event brought in all these inflatables and games. They were fantastic, so I decided to bring them in for the festival.”


Along with co-ordinating with the vendor and the festival’s own grounds crew, as well as training the 60 or so carnival volunteers, Clements has been busy organizing the midway prizes and decorations.


“We also need to at least break even (financially), so I have to come up with the pricing and estimate the number of customers,” Clements said of the carnival, which is going to be next to the RCMP community building, across from the Steveston Community Centre.


The carnival, noted Clements, will also have slightly different hours of operation from other festival events, kicking off at 11 a.m. until closing at 6 p.m.


“It has been a lot of fun so far. The organization, for me, is half the fun; seeing it all come to life,” she added.


“Now we’re just praying for good weather.”

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