Wednesday, 13 March 2013 16:38

Foremost in the running for Small Town Saturday Night contest: need votes

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Foremost is known as a close-knit town where people would help anyone, neighbour or stranger.

Now the village of 550 or so residents need help from across southern Alberta.
Foremost has been named one of six finalists in a Travel Alberta/Big Valley Jamboree-sponsored contest. It celebrates Alberta’s rural communities by offering them a chance to win a day-long country music celebration with headliner Chad Brownlee on April 27 in their home town.
The contest called “Small Town Saturday Night” is only open to communities of 20,000 people or less. Foremost is the only southern Alberta community in the running.
“We’re elated, I submitted it after only finding out about the contest a month before,” explained Joyce Williams, the Foremost resident who was the creator of the video presentation which earned the community the opportunity to compete.
She worked on it for three weeks, and it took about 10 hours to put together. Williams had a lot of help and community support.
“The Village office had some pictures I could use,” said Williams. “I’m a bit of a scrapbooker so I put the pictures together and tried to be creative. I never used a power point program before (Moviemaker). We were in a time crunch, so I just decided to do it myself.”
Chris Melnychuk, assistant general manager and producer of Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose, said the idea for the Small Town Saturday Night contest revolved around the fact it is rural Alberta which supports the Big Valley Jamboree and there wasn’t really any way to thank those rural residents.
Jamboree organizers decided to create this contest. Last year, they got a huge response. This year, the number of entries decreased but Melnychuk was still satisfied and is impressed with the response since the finalists were announced.
“The (initial entries) were down from last year; it’s a lot of work pulling the videos together and we found that those communities which didn’t enter last year are entering this year — Foremost is one of them,” explained Melnychuk who works for a company called Panhandle Productions.
While the initial entries have decreased, the number of votes are definitely increasing.
“As of (March 10) when the voting opened we had 5,000 votes in and after 36 hours we’re already at 10,000,” explained Melnychuk. “The voting is really moving and it’s really tight. Definitely no one is running away with it.”
As of noon March 12, Bashaw led followed by New Sarepta, Foremost, Namao, Cold Lake, Bonnyville and Grimshaw.
Melnychuk is amazed at the total number of votes cast, especially considering this contest is for smaller communities and urban centres can’t enter.
The reason Williams wanted to enter the contest was to help out the local recreation board with one of the pillars of the community: the local arena.
“Our rink is many decades old, about 65 years old,” said Williams. “It’s about a half a million dollar project. Any opportunity to find a source for funding, we’re going to find it ... If we win this concert 100 per cent of the proceeds will go to the rink project.”
This would perhaps include improvements to the lobby, bathrooms which connect to the outdoor swimming pool and re-doing the dressing rooms to accommodate co-ed teams.
She said she had heard the community of Legal, who won the concert last year, did extremely well financially.
Williams added they are trying to get as much exposure as possible through traditional media as well as the new media in their quest to get more votes.
“We sent flyers out to everyone in the village and we’re also getting tremendous support from the Town of Bow Island who are letting us use their electronic board.
It’s a big year for Foremost as it is celebrating its 100th anniversary this summer. Residents are hoping to kick it off with a major fundraising concert at the end of April.
The voting is done online at: http://www.bigvalley
People are eligible to vote once a day per email address.
The contest will run until March 25.

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Ryan Dahlman

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