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Wednesday, 11 September 2013 17:05

Burstall Fair gives a shot in the arm to rural area

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Those people who live in a hamlet, village or small town should’ve had the opportunity to visit the Burstall Fall Fair and Civic Awards Sept. 7-8.


The Burstall Fall Fair was extremely fun and well-organized, but what sets it apart from other community celebrations is that heavy emphasis of being proud of being rural and being from Burstall.
The whole town turned into a fun carnival with everything from the bench fair/garage sale to a parade, children’s games, to a homemade-from-scratch ethnic German meal. There were awards handed out at Hope Church honouring people for entrepreneurship, culture, sports, being a ‘good neighbour’ and of course Civic Awards and Citizen of the Year.
It was interesting to learn abut the 16 winners during the course of the third annual event.
I was particularly honoured and humbled to be given a civic award for leadership. I was at the event last year and realized what an honour it is to be recognized by the community. I just didn’t realize how humbling it was listening to the others’ stories.
There are those (especially who have never ventured outside the urban jungle) who would scoff at getting an award from a community of fewer than 400 people. No big deal right? Those who only look at total population numbers or don’t realize steak comes from a cow and bread is made with wheat don’t get it. It’s not how many people are in a community, it’s how those people work together as a community.
And all they would have to do is look at the millions of dollars pulled in by those businesses honoured at the fair: Spectra Energy, Pembina Pipelines, Plains Midstream to name a few, multi-million dollar businesses there.
Like the fair’s theme states: country matters. They sum it up nicely: “Country matters: we know kindness makes a difference. We take pride in being neighbourly. We join the celebration in being a rural community in Canada.”
Pride in themselves and in their community is something a lot of us don’t have. Burstall residents celebrate they’re from a small town and the vast majority of the people not only buy in, but truly believe  and embrace it. It’s so refreshing.
There was the speech made by Mayor Terry Volk who couldn’t express enough his thankfulness of having the “interim” tag taken off of the mayor’s chair and expressed his sincere determination in improving the town. He had to stop for a few moments to collect himself in the beginning because he expressed how proud he was of his community.
“I’m extremely honoured to be your mayor,” said Volk, shaking with pride. “I’m in a room with great people and I want to be a better person (because of that).”
Citizen of the year George Hoffart — obviously passionate man about his community — talked about how wonderful the volunteers were in the town.
He described an incredible story about how they had so many willing helpers years ago when constructing the arena, they actually painted their entire arena — the inside and outside — in one night. Wow.
He told the crowd: “It’s not my award, it’s yours as well” —nothing but pure class.
Chad Jassman, winner of the Civic sports award, has an inspiring story. Being a solid athlete growing up, he even spent some time as the Medicine Hat Tigers mascot Roary. However, after an unfortunate  auto accident left him paralyzed from the waist down, he is now an even better para-athlete. One of the emcees, Dr. Shane Andrus, held with pride the Paralympic gold medal Jassman won with the Canada Paralympic basketball team to the gasps of those in the crowd and a few moist eyes.
If there was one thing the fine folks in Burstall forgot was to video tape the ceremony. They should have — if only to make a motivational tape for those feeling down in the dumps about living in the rural area.
Story after story, one mini-biography after another about each of the winners, the theme of volunteering, helping their neighbour or their town as a whole somehow, came through repeatedly.
The community is in desperate need of a new community hall and officials trying to figure out how they are going to pay for it. Volk said he was “firmly convinced” they will get it. I believe it.
Thanks Burstall. It was an honour to be invited, be recognized and be a small part of your day. The fair, the meal, the fun, the entertainment and of course the awards ceremony was first class. You are why I write stories. Country matters: darn right it does.
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact him with your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor