Feeling festive? Me either. These are not the days of miracle and wonder. These are not the days of summer, or late summer, or native Canadian first nations aboriginal peoples summer. These are the days of autumn, shoulder season or the aptly named fall.
fall (fôl) n. An act of falling or collapsing; a sudden uncontrollable descent.
Yes, that would just about sum it up. Of course, while it's overcast and raining as I write I'm pretty certain cosmic forces are about to converge to ensure Whistler enjoys unnaturally sunny, warm weather between now and, say, November 1.
The mere act of writing this is likely to bring the sun out and make these words seem foolish. Having done this column thing for something like 17 years now I no longer have the capacity for feeling self-conscious about making a fool of myself in public. Go ahead and laugh.
And, I'm leaving town. Don't get your hopes up. Not forever — just for October. Whenever I leave during the drooping shoulder seasons the weather clears up. Whenever I leave during the dry days of winter, it dumps like we've never heard of global warming. Think of it as my gift to you. Not only gone but better weather in my stead.
All that being said, this is the time of year Whistler wants to hold a festival. That is to say, this is the time of year the RMOW's department of Fun Times — Festivals, Events and Animation — wants to have a festival. Given the reputation this town enjoys as a party town, I can't imagine very many people would object to the idea. Since it's getting colder and people are keeping their windows closed at night, maybe even the people near Whistler Olympic Park will find less to complain about.
I've heard rumours about this idea but was surprised to discover there was a Request for Proposals issued to find the person to make it happen. I was even more surprised when I discovered the deadline was the end of this week, as in tomorrow, Friday. Part of my surprise was no doubt due to the fact I couldn't easily discover much about the RFP on the muni website. While the RFP references the FE&A page, there's nothing there about it. Nothing in the old search engine under "late winter festival" or "early fall festival" either which is puzzling considering that's what it's called.
I'm beginning to wonder whether it was a secret and I shouldn't have found out about it at all when I finally did. I wonder who else didn't find out about it. Whatever, I'm sure the people who are really good about putting on events and festivals found out about it in time though I'm not entirely sure about that.
The RFP isn't actually looking for ideas on what kind of festival the late summer/early fall fest should be, it's just looking for the right kind of person to come up with those ideas and pull the whole thing together, presumably for next late summer/early fall since one of those times have already passed and we're well into the other.
The premise of the RFP is, "The regional market is unaware that late September/early October is a great time to be in Whistler." Personally, I don't know how they could have missed that. True, by the time of the LS/EF festival the mountains and bike park are only operating weekends but that's when they want to have a festival, except that by year three they want it to include Thursdays and by year four they envision a seven to 10 day fest.
And it's not like there aren't lots of other things to do here in the waning daylight hours and occasional inclement weather of LS/EF. Besides, we don't really want to focus on those seasonal disorders. We want this festival to, "Showcase Whistler's variety of summer experiences available in September/October."
Is it just me or does that seem the tiniest bit optimistic. By the time the preferred dates for this festival roll around — third weekend in September or as late as Canadian Thanksgiving, also known as, Thanksgiving — I don't know a whole lot of people who have summer experiences front of mind. The kids are back in school, golf courses are closing, gardens and cars are being winterized and plans for the holidays are just beginning to disrupt peoples' sleep.
I'm thinking we really should be focusing on a fall festival. One that celebrates the actual season we're in. So what are the things people celebrate about autumn?
Harvest, for one. Fall is the time of plenty, as long as what you want plenty of isn't asparagus. Fall is the time of root veggies, soups, stews, hearty meals that put you in a mood to hunker down for the Canadian winter to come.
Too cliché? Okay, I have to admit I'm not awash with festival ideas. But here are a few just to get the conversation going.
Harvest Fest: The weekend of the final Farmer's Market. Part county fair, part Oktoberfest, very family oriented with food, rides, games, corn maze and every farmer, restaurateur and winemaker for miles around. Fatten 'em up and get 'em ready to spend the next seven months in bulky sweaters and puffy coats.
Turkey Sale: I know, we already have one. But it used to be so much better when it was at the Conference Centre and involved more retailers. All things skiing/boarding with gear, films, Oktoberfest tent (you're likely to see this one pop up again) and silent auction where you can win a season of chiropractic adjustments, among other things.
Pornucopia: All things adult entertainment... with a naked Oktoberfest tent. Featuring the stars and near-stars of the adult entertainment industry, biggest moneymaker on the Internet. And you thought the Tough Mudder was dirty. Pornucopia can either stand-alone or be coupled with...
Casino Royale: Live, round the clock demonstrations of the myriad ways to separate tourists from their money faster than the eye can follow. I know, it sounds like gambling but with no real casino, the house winnings can be directed to various charities. After all, we're just trying to fill hotels and restaurants here. Free drinks for losers at the Oktoberfest tent.
Fringe Food Festival: Calling all paleos, vegans, raw foodies, macrobiotics, low-carb, no-carb, all-carb, proteinheads. Don't miss the tent boosting the all cabbage roll diet. Oktoberfest tent featuring only microbrews, boutique distilleries and homemade wine.
Fastival: Sort of a group cleanse in anticipation of the excess of the holidays. Probably includes yoga. Don't think the restaurants would get behind this one though. Oktoberfest tent featuring trendy waters only.
Okay, I'm in.
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