September 28, 2022

Energetic county fair organizer, unfazed by planning deadlines

FORT ST. JOHN, BC – Like an award-winning garden at a traditional county fair, the Energetic County Fair has taken root and is growing rapidly according to plans laid out by organizer Dale Plourde and in accordance with the strict deadlines set by Fort St. John’s City Council.

While the four-step timelines and the requirements to meet them in the months leading up to the music festival may seem like a lot, Plourde is “not at all” worried about meeting them on time.

“It’s a lot of work,” he said. But he explains that the timeline, which includes acquiring various licenses, insurance and risk management plans, is actually quite flexible.

Plourde and the site manager who works with him have 75 years of experience planning and organizing events like this and more. They both managed shorter deadlines than the one related to this event.

“Sometimes I’ve had shows that I had to put together in a month, right? And promote it and sell tickets. explains Plourde.

This event has been in the works since September 2021. The Board’s schedule for remaining permits and documentation, with the earliest deadline being May 20, has not fazed him.

Several, but not all, items required for this phase — and even some of the second phase, such as liquor licenses — are expected to be completed by the end of the week.

With plans moving forward, Plourde is confident that the festival will exist in the physical world and not just digital: the prominent social media presence of the event, designed by Plourde, has been a criticism from reality-conscious festival skeptics of the event – global provisions.

Promoter by profession, Plourde knows that it is essential to create this buzz and this important word of mouth.

“It’s so important to create excitement in some way. So I think it’s important to be in digital spaces… to keep people engaged. And, from what I’ve seen, it works.

Treating social media and the buzz it generates as trivial is an “uneducated and inaccurate” way to think about social media, Plourde said.

He went on to explain how he views this element of his job in terms of time: where organizing a festival takes hundreds of hours, an effective social media post takes five minutes. And he has no trouble finding messages.

“There is so much to say. There are 17 artists playing in three days and many of them are local and there is so much [that] never happened in the community.

While the novelty of the first of what Plourde intends to be an annual event is part of its appeal, it is also the source of the pitfalls the event has seen with the town. He has been called a “guinea pig” for the city, and Plourde agrees.

The first of these issues was the original plan to use Centennial Park for the festival, which the city rejected for a myriad of reasons. The second was the four-step schedule to ensure the city sees the requirements and documentation on time. This timetable and the dates it requires have been the subject of some misunderstanding so far, but Plourde believes they can all be settled and met in time.

While the festival’s first year has by no means been ideal, Plourde is grateful for the updated schedule and honored by the city’s willingness to embrace the project.

“He was capable in that community,” Plourde said.

“The point is, we can start somewhere and [the festival] will definitely prove itself.

While Plourde is incredibly excited for plans for the Energetic County Fair to quickly blossom, seeing the community come together to help make this event happen is a highlight.

“Just the number of people reaching out to say, can I help be a part of this? Because it’s the thing that feels best. It’s awesome.”