WITH AN EVER-EVOLVING PROGRAM, BEDFORD DAYS FOSTERS COMMUNITY SPIRIT
Erika Proctor often took her two children to the events at Bedford Days.
“When I first moved here, it was a smaller event, but I watched it grow over the years,” she says.
Proctor’s children have grown too, but Bedford Days is still a big part of her life. She started volunteering five years ago, helping out with smaller events over the four-day festival and sitting in on planning meetings. She says her experience taking her young children gave her insight as a volunteer. Three years ago, she became chair of the Bedford Days committee.
“I knew what people liked because I was one of those people in the crowd,” she says.
A small group of volunteers, plus staff from the HRM Civic Events, make Bedford Days happen. There are seven people on the planning committee. Another handful of volunteers help with planning and hosting community activities. The committee starts planning for the next year shortly after Bedford Days wraps up.
“It’s a dedication of time and effort to pull this off,” Proctor says. “People are amazed we don’t have a team of 50 people. There are fewer than 10 people working on this.”
This year’s event runs from June 28 to July 2. There are activities for all ages, including the Kids Extravaganza, pancake breakfast, beer tent, cake cutting, movie night, the Canada Day fireworks, concerts in DeWolf Park, an ice cream social, and Rouge et Blanc, a signature event for anyone over the age of 19. A favourite with young and old, Raina Mermaid will be back again this year.
While Bedford Days is a celebration of the community of Bedford, Proctor says it attracts families from other communities, such as Fall River, Lower Sackville, Clayton Park, and beyond.
“It’s interesting when you’re there how many people you don’t know,” she says. “It’s interesting to see the reach. A lot of people are benefiting.”
Proctor says Bedford Days is a success because the committee is always looking for ways to evolve and try something new. She says every year, new and interesting suggestions come their way. For instance, a new addition to the community lineup this year is an event for teens at The Board Room Games Café on the Friday night. Other community events are scheduled around the same time.
But she adds it’s also an event for families, some of whom have been attending for years, bringing their children and then their grandchildren.
“They know they can come and bring their chairs and blankets and be part of the community,” Proctor says.
AT THE HEART OF THINGS
ONE VOLUNTEER AT BEDFORD DAYS TURNS HIS EXPERIENCE INTO A CAREER
Scott MacKendrick’s first role as a volunteer with Bedford Days had him in costume for Teddy Bears on Parade.
“It was 100°F outside and you’re wearing the suit and it’s 100°F inside the suit,” MacKendrick says.
MacKendrick heard about volunteer opportunities through a friend who was taking piano lessons with the event’s volunteer coordinator. He was in Grade 10 at the time at CP Allen High School. “I said I’d love to go down and check out how Bedford Days is run and give some time back to the community,” he says.
He signed on for one day but, despite the heat, enjoyed his experience so much that he stayed on for the entire event. Besides wearing the teddy bear suit, MacKendrick helped park cars, cut and served cake, and worked with the public attending the events. He went back to volunteer year after year.
Now MacKendrick is part of the team that organizes Bedford Days. His volunteer experiences with Bedford Days inspired him to study public relations. He graduated from Mount Saint Vincent and his program included co-op work experience. In 2017, he took a four-month contract with HRM working as a civic-events coordinator. He’s back this year and Bedford Days is one of the events he helps organize.
“Realizing everything takes months and months of planning and seeing it on the forefront as a volunteer and then being in an active role, it’s definite a shift in mind set,” MacKendrick says.
MacKendrick says volunteering and working on Bedford Days taught him a lot of new skills, primarily time management and scheduling. Organizing for the event starts just days after the previous year’s event. And, he says, working with the Bedford Days team, which includes volunteers and HRM staff, has been his favourite part of the experience. “If your staff isn’t fun, positive, or energetic, then it becomes very stressful and there never was any of that,” he says.
MacKendrick says he’d like to eventually work in a non-profit. But whatever his job, he says he’d like to be organizing events. “Taking a lot of the skills I learned from the HRM team is good to have in your back pocket,” he says.
MacKendrick says he encourages others to volunteer at Bedford Days. “It’s a community event, it’s where you live,” MacKendrick says. “Why not give back to those who give so much to you. And you can wear a 100°F mascot costume.”
A TASTE OF BEDFORD
SHOWCASING LOCAL FOOD AND WINE, ROUGE ET BLANC HAS BECOME A FESTIVAL FAVOURITE
Rouge et Blanc has become one of the highlights of Bedford Days over the past few years. Bedford Days has traditionally been a popular event with families, but Rouge et Blanc is specifically for the 19-plus crowd. This year’s event is on Saturday, June 30 and completely free.
“We have a lot of wonderful events for kids and always have, but other than the beer fest, there’s not been a lot for the older group,” says Donna Lugar, volunteer sponsorship coordinator with Bedford Days. “This is a nice night out.”
Lugar got the idea for Rouge et Blanc after visiting the Saltscapes Expo. She thought Bedford could use a similar expo to highlight and promote businesses in Bedford. Organizers focused Rouge et Blanc on food and wine, naming it for the red and white wines served. The theme also suits Canada Day, which falls during Bedford Days.
“I had the aha moment and after talking with the Bedford Days group we came up with the concept,” Lugar says.
For several years, the event was at Basinview Elementary School. But for the past three years, Rouge et Blanc has taken over Sunnyside Mall for one evening. The mall with its scenic avenue stroll down its core, fits in well with the theme of the event. But the change in venue meant more exposure, too. Attendance went from a couple of hundred guests when it was held at Basinview to between 600 and 800 at Sunnyside Mall, which has free parking and is on a bus route.
The event offers visitors a chance to try cuisine from restaurants in Bedford. This year’s participants have not yet been finalized but past participants included Resto, Pete’s Frootique, Liquid Gold, Papa Mario’s, Nayya Pizza, Butcher’s Block, and more. “It’s really a benefit for the restaurants as well to get residents into their establishment,” Lugar says.
And it brings more people to Sunnyside Mall. “The first year we had it at the mall, I heard quite frequently, ‘I didn’t know this store was here,’” Lugar says.
The organizers also incorporate artistic elements into Rouge et Blanc. Local painters, photographers,
and musicians provide entertainment. Volunteers from Scott Manor House, dressed in period costumes, host displays and greet guests at
Like the rest of Bedford Days, Rouge et Blanc evolves. The team is also working on having live jazz at this year’s event. A local musician who was interested in being involved approached organizers; Lugar suggested setting up a jazz room in an empty storefront.
Lugar remains involved with Rouge et Blanc, volunteering the night of the event. “That’s one of the events I help come set up for and help it run smoothly,” Lugar says. “It’s not my baby, but it’s one of my favourite events we do now.”
Check out the full schedule of events at bedforddays.ca