The village of Elbow had plenty of reason to celebrate its past, present and future when it hosted another weekend of Culture Days activities and events from September 28-30.
The goal of the weekend was for people to come out and ‘Create, Share, Participate’. By the end of the weekend, the organizing committee could definitely say that their mission had been accomplished in that regard.
The event, which is celebrated across Canada on the last weekend of September yearly, features thousands of free, hands-on, interactive activities where the public can discover the world of artists, creators, heritage experts, architects, curators, designers and other creative professionals in their communities.
Specifically, when it comes to Elbow’s rendition of Culture Days, it’s all about celebrating those who’ve made an impact in the village and surrounding area in all walks of life, and marking the area’s contributions in the arts and performing sector.
This year’s Culture Days theme in Elbow was ‘OnBeat’, putting a musical twist on all things culture and showcasing a number of activities, including displays and demonstrations such as dancers bringing a ‘Mexican Fiesta’ to the Elbow rink, or taking everyone to the Highlands or to the Dominican Republic with dancing demos.
The region’s musical past was also on prominent display, such as the instruments used in the Loreburn District Lions Band, which was formed in 1923 with Otto Jacobson as Band Master, and disbanded in the 30’s when members moved away. There was also the Loreburn Town & Country Kitchen Band, which first performed in 1987 and even made their own instruments, such as shakers made out of tin cans.
Other displays highlighted groups such as the Elbow Community Choir and local author Guy D. Holmes, as well as magnificent paintings and art work by local artists in the community.
The event wasn’t just squarely focused on music, though. When it comes to culture and heritage, some participants were proud to highlight the deep generational roots of their own families, some that may go back centuries.
Take Grace Cochran of Elbow, for instance. Grace proudly displayed photographs of her family, a number of whom were war veterans, and she also provided a unique timeline of her family’s roots that date all the way back to the year 1240 in the land of Scotland; a remarkable 26-generation journey to present day.
Cochran says doing the research on her family, which equated to over three decades of work, was a task worth doing because it’s up to the generations that are living to preserve one’s heritage and to discover your own past.
“I would say that each generation owes it to their family to know where they come from,” said Grace. “It can be a lot of work, in our case it was 35 years, but it can be worth it. It’s about knowing who you are.”
Anne Wilson, a volunteer with the Elbow & District Museum & Historical Society and a coordinator for Culture Days says the event helps highlight what makes Elbow so special.
“In Elbow, it’s all about community,” she said. “Every aspect of the culture is represented, and culture isn’t just our heritage; it’s a feeling. We have it all, I think!”
The village is the first one in the Lake Diefenbaker regional area to pick up on the nationally-marked event and celebrate it, and Wilson says it allows people to show others what they’re proud of.
“When they first started getting involved in Culture Days, it did,” she said. “That’s because no other little towns did it because it was in harvest season, but now it’s national. I think it lets people be so proud of their culture and show respect, I just love it.”
Elbow adopting the Culture Days event to mark every fall may have sewn the seeds for other towns to start celebrating it, Wilson says. It’s something that doesn’t need to be big or flashy, just something that represents who you are as a community and what makes your own unique culture and backgrounds stand out.
“Oh, it already has,” said Anne, on the growth of Culture Days. “There are different towns that are now going, ‘Hmm, we can do that’. You don’t have to have a three-day thing or even a very big thing, you just have to focus on something that celebrates your people.”
Whether it was the musical, artistic and heritage displays, demonstrations and activities inside the Elbow rink, the musical performances at the Civic Centre, or even the barrel racing and team roping over at the rodeo grounds, Culture Days certainly put a spotlight on what makes Elbow as a community shine.