Whether you're a guest at a homecoming or someone planning one, here are five things seasoned organizers say should be part of your great experience.
1. Look for a unique community heritage event
The Kerrobert centennial committee had the idea to host a Chautauqua in the town’s performing arts space during their 2011 celebration. A Chautauqua was a travelling musical show that was extremely popular in the early 1900s. The shows would be held in tents and move from town to town across the Canadian prairies and throughout the United States.
Talent shows, a form of Chautauqua, are planned for many of the upcoming 2012 homecomings.
2. See what grant funds can accomplish
Make sure you figure out the grants that are available,” says Biggar town counsellor and co-chair on the town’s centennial homecoming committee Penny McCallum.
“The grants are tied to a project so you need to see what you might want to build in your community.”
Biggar obtained funding to build a memorial park in the town. It is a project that is about half way to completion and will feature a large clock.
Biggar discovered that when a grant application is refused it pays off to ask why and try again. “Sometimes you just have to change a small thing to fit their guidelines,” says McCallum. “Don’t give up.”
3. Be open-minded about what you can do at a homecoming
In the works for Norquay is a “mud fling.” A muddy slough is constructed and vehicles of various description test four-wheel-drive and knobby tires as they attempt to cross over. This is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a homecoming but chances are it will be memorable!
4. Get creative with the variety of accommodations
For towns as small as 500 people, centennial homecomings can attract 1,000 visitors for a weekend of celebration. For larger towns, up to 2,500 can turn out. That means every possible space has to be prepared for people to lodge. The 100 residents at Margo received more than 1,000 guests during their celebration!
5. Make sure there’s time to reconnect
Planning committees have come up with several excellent ways to help people meet and talk. Guestbooks at schools and churches (so you can see who has passed through) and a central gathering place where guests can roam through and have a coffee are just two ideas to help people reconnect.
Village of Denzil organizers were surprised by the number of impromptu class reunions that spontaneously occurred as old classmates bumped into each other.
See the full list of ten tips that appeared in the Spring 2012 issue by ordering a copy now! Call 1-888-861-8311 or email us or get the digital version of this issue. Communities celebrating homecomings in 2012 are listed here and in our Events Calendar.
If you are hosting a homecoming celebration this year, contact us to receive our FREE Homecoming Celebration Package which includes a listing of your event in our Events Calendar, postcards for your guests, and colourful posters to display. More information here.