To the Editor;
The latest poll regarding the Four Fathers Festival (Page 2 on July 16) bears some minor analysis.
Eleven per cent said yes, the more the merrier; 45 per cent said yes, if it's properly promoted and planned; another 20 per cent didn't say no, but said the winter months are too variable. Only 24 per cent said the people wouldn't support it. It shows that more than 75 per cent of the population are in favour.
The recent Four Fathers Festival wasn't memorable as these things go, but it could have been, and could be in the future. The poll tells it all. Had it been planned over a longer period, and had the citizens been involved in that planning, and had it been promoted early and on an ongoing basis, it could have been a blockbuster of a success.
In 1989 Amherst held its Centennial Celebration marking 100 years as an incorporated town. Early in 1988 plans were formulated, committees were formed to come up with their part in the overall project, and a co-ordinator for the entire project was selected, along with a go-between for liaison between the co-ordinator, committees and the town.
Except for the co-ordinator, the rest were volunteers, dozens of them. The committees formulated their plans and submitted their budgets. Promotion was ongoing through the auspices of the Amherst Daily News who permitted us to submit a weekly unedited column on the plans and progress of the project, and ways to get more people involved.
The imaginative ideas that came out of the committees were fantastic. The project carried on for the entire year 1989, with the highlights, among numerous other activities, being the Centennial Wedding, the Centennial Revue and the closing ceremonies in December.
Notices went out to newspapers across the country inviting ex-Amherstonians home for the celebration, and many came. The Centennial Revue was held at the stadium. Due to the cost of lighting and other equipment rental costs, it was a one-night affair that saw the stadium packed to the rafters. There had been nothing to compare with it since the Old Home Week celebrations of 1910.
Wolfville Mayor, the late Robbins Elliott, came to Amherst seeking the plan for the Centennial Wedding, which they intended to emulate in their own centennial celebrations, later.
A man from New Brunswick offered the use of his period carriage and team of Morgan horses for the bride and groom on the wedding day, and for other events involving them over the year, all free of charge.
Of course, there can be no comparison between centennial year and the recent Four Fathers celebration, but there is nothing to say it couldn't be expanded by well-publicized citizen involvement. The ideas are out there, it is only a matter of gathering them in and setting up the appropriate committees. The people will do the rest.
John G. McKay, Amherst