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Column: Definitely, a weekend to remember

An opinion piece on the past weekend in Estevan and the people behind it.
KCRA Estevan Rodeo opening ceremony.

What a weekend it was!

It was actually one of my two favourites in Estevan.

I really enjoy the grad weekend in Estevan (which is coming up by the way), simply because it's filled with concentrated happiness. Take the number of graduating students, multiply it by 10 relatives cheering for each on average, and add the number of staff at ECS, and that will give you the estimate for how many people are directly involved in this blast of positivity every year.

It also adds many beautiful colours and lots of classiness to Estevan's streets thanks to the community cheering for the graduates, the gorgeous students themselves and the parade, a new and fun tradition thanks to the pandemic.

(Even though Estevan did become brighter thanks to the recent effort of the Estevan Arts Council, I still feel there is room for much more colour, which grad day provides).

But while the ECS grad weekend gives the entire community a reason to cheer, it doesn't get everyone actively involved. Most people, like me, just enjoy observing the parade and grads appearing here and there for pictures in their beautiful outfits, looking happy and excited.

The fair and rodeo weekend, on the other hand, is the weekend that has something for everyone. The four-day big bash, which made a return as a joint event last year and is to continue in this format for at least a few more years, is the time when I get friends from out of town to come down and share the excitement with Estevan and me. And I'm not the only one.

The four days of the fair and rodeo attract many people from surrounding communities and further. Estevan becomes a destination for people from as far west as the Alberta border and as far east as Manitoba, and I bet, some American families are making their way here to feel our energy, too.

This year the Estevan Exhibition Association really outdid themselves. Those were four days filled with action of all kinds. The traditional parade kicked it off, followed by the sweet Kids' Rodeo, which gives a nice and promising look into the future of what we are to see happening at a higher level at our grounds, along with other arenas in Canada and internationally in the years to come.

All four days also offered the guests a chance to enjoy a magnificent quilt show, thanks to the local Heart and Hands Quilt Guild and their unbelievable talents. The rodeo started on a Friday this year and lasted for three days instead of two, attracting more competitors, providing more opportunities for them and thus offering more entertainment for the crowd.

Saturday was loaded. It saw another tradition return. The Benson 4-H Beef Club brought back the ag component, hosting the open steer and heifer jackpot. Guests could also showcase their talents at the organized open stage. The 2023 Rodeo Queen was crowned at the grounds. And there were many other opportunities for young and grown-ups alike. And the day wrapped up with a great fun show by the Johner Brothers.

And of course, all four days saw the rides going with thousands of people enjoying the thrill of the fair coming to town.

Not only was there a lot of things to do and enjoy, what I personally really appreciate about the entire big and very complicated event was thought through. There were many little things like a live feed to the rodeo in the indoor arena so people could stay out of the sun, there were people movers, regular road waterings, increased accessibility, organized baby changing stations and many more details, which turned a good community-wide event into an absolutely perfect one, in my opinion.

And it wasn't just for the fair and rodeo that made this weekend so memorable. We also had ball games, show and shines, the Lions' golf tournament and the Estevan Police Association colour run on top of all other non-organized activities Estevan gets to enjoy in the summer, happening throughout the community all weekend long. So, I felt that people of any age and interest could find something that would get them excited this weekend.

I know I was overloaded with positive vibes after attending most of the events listed above. And those were not only the vibes of satisfaction of seeing and doing something fun, but also the sense of fulfillment where I felt like being a part of a happy community.

And also, the sense of fascination.

I talked about this phenomenon many times, but I don't think I'd ever get tired of focusing on it. And the name of that phenomenon is volunteers. None of the events that rocked Estevan last week would be possible without this mind-blowing community, that donates time, skills and talents to making it better for everyone.

The EEA board, which is volunteers too, is unbelievably wonderful, and so are the people who signed up for the shifts to make the fair and rodeo wheels turn. And so are people participating in car shows, volunteering their time with local service clubs, donating their knowledge to coaching local teams, and many others who are involved in Estevan's active and busy life.

If all these people would be paid, like they are at say, the Calgary Stampede, Estevan would never have anything – too small of a community to afford to bring events and pay everyone to make it work. But try telling our story to big city people. I bet they'd be shocked.

There are many meanings to the Energy City, and I often feel that the energy sector takes the No. 1 place in this list. But the longer I live here, the more I'm convinced that "Energy" in the city's nickname also stands for the inner light, strength, power and generosity that so many people here carry inside them.

Thank you, Estevan volunteers, for your energy and this great weekend! 

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