Pioneer Days & high school reunion buzz

By Andrea Arnold


Although most people cannot agree on when Pioneer Days got started in McBride, they can agree on the fact that it is a weekend to make memories. With family-friendly events, people to visit and food to eat, it is a great way to kick off the summer season.

Many look forward to Bob Balcaen’s voice as he drives around town inviting people to events. His granddaughter Kimberlee Robinson remembers him testing the sound system in his Grumman truck before heading off to keep the town informed. Most memorable is his Sunday morning wake up message inviting people to attend the pancake breakfast from 9am-11am.  This year will be the 41st year that Balcaen has performed this service.

A highlight for valley resident Katharina McNaughton is the Saturday morning parade. Each year, kids, adults, animals and machines roll down main street to the delight of spectators. This year’s pioneer/train theme parade will begin at 10am. Please remember to keep the street clear of parked vehicles until after the parade.

Pioneer Days celebrated everything McBride has going for it, and council didn’t miss the chance to show off.  The massive parade more than justified the trip for families from all over /ANDRU MCCRACKEN & SYDNEY PHILPOTT. 2018 file photo

This year the event is sharing the weekend with the 1975-1990 High School reunion.  Former students and interested members of the public are invited to attend a tour of the “new” High School on Saturday at 10:45am. The reunion committee is hosting a dinner event (pre-sold tickets) at the Community Hall beginning at 4:30pm. At 9pm, the doors will be opened for those holding tickets for the annual Elks and Royal Purple Dance, live music by local group “Roadside Splinter.”

A Slo-Pitch tournament during the weekend is a long standing tradition at Bill Clark Memorial Park.This year’s 3-day tournament will hold special meaning as players feel the loss of friend and teammate Bryan Beer (passed away in a work accident in the fall). Competition will be fierce as teams play to honour his memory. The tournament venue will also host a beer gardens in the pavilion across the fence.

Friday evening after the bats are hung up, the Elks will again host the 19+ event “Rock, Paper, Scissors” beginning at 9pm. Registration is at 8pm ($10). The E-Free Church, next to the ball diamond, is hosting an Escape Room for youth grade 7-9. This event will run from 7pm-9pm, and is free.

Steve Kolida Park will be a hub of activity all weekend: Kids’ activities, a food booth, horseshoe tournament and live music are just a few of the items people will remember from years past. Also returning this year is the Show ‘n Shine event following the parade at the green space by the Gigglin Grizzly Pub.

mcbride, robson valley, british columbia, pioneer days, parade
Pioneer Days. 2013 file photo

The logger sports event is a long-time favorite. Over the years it has been scaled back, but loggers and wannabe loggers can test their skills against the clock and each other at the Self-Storage Parking lot on 2nd Ave, beginning Sunday at 11.

A few events have been added more recently: the Kids Fun Run on Friday at 3:30pm will be held at the McBride Mountain Trails. The trailhead is at 1km on the road up to the lookout. People will have the opportunity to dress up and have an Old Time Pioneer Photo taken on Saturday from 11:30am-2:30pm. Costumes & props will be provided. A $20 fee will get a 15 min photo shoot and your photo emailed to you.

New on the schedule this year are former residents Leonard Foster (Honey Bee Presenter), and Agnus Cockney (Motivational Speaker). The two are returning to the valley for the weekend, and want to share their passions with the community that helped shape them.

People who have attended Pioneer Days over the years have made many memories, and return each year to partially re-live years past. Organizers hope people come enjoy the events this year, while taking the opportunities to visit with friends, old and new, and make new memories.

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