Wednesday, 24 August 2016 12:10

Slow economy doesn’t hinder Quonset Days’ final totals

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One gets the impression from Janet Biemans that this year’s Quonset Days fundraiser in support of the ALS Society of Alberta was even more successful than usual.

After a delay in announcing the 2016 Quonset Days’ final tally for the July 22-23 event near Seven Persons, the Quonset Days Facebook page’s post from Aug. 21 indicated the 2016 edition raised “almost $72,000. In 2015, Quonset Days brought in a net of $61,000. With the additional $72,000, it’s close to $273,000 raised by the Biemans and their concert which started in 2010 as a tribute to Janet’s husband Peter who passed away from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive disease which destroys cells in the brain and spinal cord.”
Biemans was thrilled the 2016 final totals were a record breaker for them — all things considered.
“We never dreamed that we could raise that amount this year with the economy the way it is. We were just hoping that we would break even,” she explains. “I think we realized late Saturday that we had record-breaking attendance and something special was happening. This year we had just over one thousand ‘of age’ in attendance and probably at least 50 minors. This is up about 200 people from last year.
“Anyone that knows our family knows that it takes a lot to make us speechless, but wow, the support we get is truly amazing. When you have complete strangers coming up and saying what a great thing we are doing and how much fun they are having it makes all the loss of sleep worthwhile.”
The announcement of the total funds raised was delayed because organizers had to wait for some larger bills to come in as well as a wait for bidders to pay for some of the more expensive auction items.
This year Quonset organizers tried having an office on site which worked well and they will be doing it again next year.  Bidders will be able to pay for their auction purchases before they leave so that should help with collecting money next year.
The economy didn’t slow down the enjoyment level as the crowds took in the performances of Econoline Crush, Kira Isabella, Bobby Wills and Phoenix.
There are photographs online of people enjoying the foot-long hot dogs from Seven Persons’ Premium Sausage, but Biemans says where the money was made was during the auction.
“The auction is one of our largest sources of income. When picking the entertainment we try to calculate how many people we think will attend so that the gate admission pays for the bands,” she says. “The auction this year brought in about $8,000 more than last year. This was amazing.
“Probably one of the most interesting auction items this year was the sale of a beard. There’s a man that grows a beard for a full year starting at harvest time. This year he decided to auction it off and raise some funds for us. AgPlus was the buyer for $2,000 with the stipulation the guy with the beard (who is a custom combine operator) had to test drive one of AgPlus’s combines during the 2016 harvest season. It was a very interesting negotiation. Every year we are shocked at how generous the buyers are. We also have record-breaking donations for the auction as well. We may need to look at getting another tent next year to add to the two we already use for the silent auction.”
While they try to keep to the same format every year Biemans says they always look for ways to improve. They are open to suggestions that are taken back to the Quonset Days board of directors for discussion.
“It is never easy when you lose someone to ALS or any reason for that matter, but when we started Quonset Days in 2010 our goal was to raise awareness and funds for ALS while having a great time,” Biemans adds. “We have managed to do that and I think Peter is with us every minute of the weekend. Keeping his memory alive is very important to our family and friends and we will continue to do that for as long as we can keep hosting Quonset Days. When we have strangers commenting on our Facebook page about how proud Peter would be, well we know we are doing something right.”
It’s a fun weekend, but there are no plans to lengthen the amount of days or performers. The same formula is working and its success in terms of attendance and money generated for ALS continues to grow. The reason why it works is because of those who keep coming back and telling their friends and family about it. The Biemans family often hears from people that it seems like when a person attends the event once, he or she feels part of something. They also hear comments about how polite, supportive and enjoyable the day is, but they also feel like they’re part of something special, like they are part of the Quonset, if not, Biemans family.
“It doesn't seem to matter what age you are, everyone finds common ground when they come through our gate. We have had people ask if we will continue to get bigger. No we won’t. We want to be able to keep that feeling of family and feel we can only do that by keeping the size we have now,” Janet notes. “We had a lot of new faces this year and they commented on how much fun they had, how welcomed they were made to feel and that they would be coming back.”
Quonset Days 2017 will be held July 21-22. Planning for 2017 is already well underway. Some entertainment is already booked and an announcement will be made closer to Christmas. They will also change the camping and parking for next year in an attempt to be a little more organized in that area.
“Overall we are thrilled with how Quonset Days 2016 went. We had amazing sponsors that really went above and beyond to help us out,” she adds. “Our entertainers are some of the nicest people we have ever had the pleasure of knowing. The volunteers that we have that come back year after year — we couldn’t do it without them. We really need to come up with something better than just ‘thank you’. Those two little words just seem so inadequate when trying to express how much it means to our family to have such an outpouring of love and support.”

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Ryan Dahlman

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