The shade was creeping over my body, bringing a cool blanket over my hot skin. I yanked my cap up to replace the hot air around my head with colder fresh air. It was a habit I’d continue throughout the day as the sunlight became hotter and the sweet delicious shade became scarcer. I wiggled on the curb trying to get some feeling back after sitting on the pavement for over an hour. Though a solitary figure from the Declercq clan, I was far from alone. Around me people gossiped and greeted each other from their lawn chairs and blankets. Ever few seconds a cheerful cry went up as someone recognized another whom they hadn’t seen in months or weeks or years. A small child at my side turned to her mother and asked in a voice I could fondly recall from my own youth, “mom, when’s the parade starting?” The youngster settled back with a huff when the answer was ten minutes, which as we all know is a decade in a child’s time frame.
After ten restless minutes the sight of three Royal Canadian Mounted Police leading the parade around the corner erased all tension from waiting. The parents gave a gasp of relief and settled back to watch their children sprint back and forth with candy. The parade had begun and so had the Canadian celebration.
So how else do you embody the patriotic spirit of a small city and a bunch of neighboring towns, villages and hamlets?
I was stationed at a small village called Rosemary. This village is a very quiet place most of the year but when Canada Day rolls around it proudly rivals the party set up by the nearby city, Brooks. Rosemary is my usual destination for the Canada Day celebration for that very reason. I requested covering it because I enjoy everything they put on and the effort they put into it.
For Rosemary the embodiment of patriotic spirit is the act of celebrating our youth, history and our crazy prairie antics.
For example, one year it was decided that snowmobiles do not necessarily need snow. Rosemary started to run what they call the Grass Races on Canada Day. This is where participants race their snowmobiles as fast as they can across a straight strip of grass. It’s a drag race with snowmachines in summer. This year the event was held in advance on June 29. This type of race is popular in the United States as well with the largest such event in Lino Lakes, Minnesota.
Then of course there is the antique tractor pull. This is a test of strength for the old farm tractors people restore or tune up to bring out to this event. The idea is to drag a machine that gradually adds more “weight” to itself to see how far the tractor can pull it.
We don’t stop there of course! You’ll love this next one.
In what’s called the Mud Bog every participant tries to drive through a pit of deep, wet mud. Basically they try to avoid getting stuck in a pit designed to get them stuck. The faster they pass through the mud pit (if they make it anyway) the higher they will rank.
(Looks very America doesn’t it.)
Each truck is hooked to a cable before setting out into the pit. If they get stuck they stop and a tractor pulls them out backwards. When the hitch or cable breaks a team has to be sent in to reattach it.
There was a short intermission with a display of motocross.
There were miniature tractors you could pedal around. These were really amusing to watch as kids pedalled as fast as they could up and down the loop. Traffic jams were not uncommon—after all these kids don’t have their licenses!
A petting zoo opened for the children complete with a horse, cow, two pigs, two goats and four kittens. All of the animals were probably cuddled out by the end of the day.
And as the day began to close the small village of Rosemary hosted a watermelon eating contest. At first the crowd stood at a respectful distance but it didn’t take long for the audience to squeeze in close to see the action.
And then the night was completed with the customary and regionally famous Rosemary fireworks.
Oh, and there was a fire spinner who performed just before the fireworks! More on him later because I interviewed him for work.