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My strategy in the pumpkin carving contest was an adrenalin-driven pitch for audience sympathy. I am not an artist. And it was the public who would be voting to select the winners of the carving match. The energy at the community centre where six or so contestants—some teams, some solo like me—plied away at pumpkin flesh was very high, indeed. Pancakes, some heavily smoked meat, and irresistibly fragrant coffee vied for space in the building against a rising quantity of conversation. I wanted to engage in all that was taking place around me (the coffee and chat, particularly) as I am extremely fond of all the essentials of a good Prairie community breakfast. But I was busy.
The fact is, I prefer to relax at traditional rural celebrations. I like them when it’s a sunny day (as it was in Rosetown) and whatever other things may need doing can be deferred for a less fraternal kind of day. I revel in the public display of hallowed symbols—flags, horses, machinery—and the veneration of beloved songs and stories lulls me into a sense of well-being. I’m also a sucker for parades.
All of these things, and many more besides, were in ebullient display at the Rosetown Harvest Family Festival. The festival takes place rather luxuriantly over a full October week. Daily events and evening celebrations sustain the momentum and as Hugh Lees, former school teacher and chair of the tourism committee, explained, people plan a visit around the week. A concert kicks off the festival and a “Tough Trucks” competition winds it up. Other events appeal to all tastes that range between those extremes.
I left the pumpkin contest utterly vexed by the misbegotten thing I had left on the table. My name was brashly appended to its lid. There are some things from which you simply can’t return. I was distracted almost immediately by the town’s Masonic Temple. I have seen many of them, as anyone in the British Dominion has, but this one was open and serving popcorn—and inviting passersby in for tours. This appeared to me to be wholly unusual and I approached the normally shuttered and unwelcoming doorway with a little apprehension. I accepted the bag of popcorn and followed the narrow vestibule into the meeting hall.
For a non-initiate, the sheer quantity of iconography in a Masonic lodge is a little astonishing. Swords, furniture, banners, articles of ceremonial clothing, and much else is saturated with symbolism. I did learn that the lodge in Rosetown received its dispensation in 1912 and every person of political or economic significance in the community for the last century has a portrait on the wall. Fascinating, but perplexing. Why, I wondered, would a normally shy organization open it’s doors to this many strangers? By way of explanation, I was told that the lodge had played a significant role in the community’s development and the 80 or 90 current members wanted to share that history.
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