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What it takes to make the Kelligrews Soiree happen

A highlight of last year’s Kelligrews Soiree was a flyover by the Canadian Armed Forces Snowbirds over Conception Bay. The event drew thousands of visitors to the town. This year’s Kelligrews Soiree is similarly packed with events, but more of the on the ground variety.

By Olivia Bradbury / Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Few people will realize next week when they are at the Garden Party or enjoying live entertainment in the (we’re hoping) afternoon sun, that the plans for the many events at this year’s Kelligrews Soiree started to be laid during the snowy days and frosty nights of this past March.

That’s when the committee of CBS Town staff, councillors and volunteers started getting together to prepare for the Town of Conception Bay South’s long running annual summer festival. This year the Kelligrews Soiree runs from Saturday, July 6th to Friday, July 12th.

Councillor At-Large Joshua Barrett, who chairs the Town’s recreation committee and is the liaison with the Soiree committee, said the first order of business when it comes to planning is reviewing last year’s events. But that starts even earlier than March.

“The planning for next year’s Soiree will start a week after this Soiree ends,” explained Barrett. “At the end of every Soiree we have a follow-up meeting to evaluate how everything went.”

But the heavy lifting when it comes to budgeting, planning and logistics starts in March.

That makes for much smoother operations months later when councillors and other volunteers start serving up pancakes at the annual community breakfast sponsored by Home Hardware or clicking off runners’ finish line times in the Soiree 8K.

The pancake breakfast kicks off the Soiree on the morning of July 6, followed by the Garden Party concert in the evening. This year the evening concert and dance will include performances by The Celtic Connection, Masterless Men, Kitchinparti, and Baccalieu. Tickets are already on sale.

Barrett said a big goal that was kept in mind for this year’s Soiree was increasing inclusivity and accessibility. This is something Barrett said the committee members learned and wished to improve upon following last year’s Soiree, which coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Town of Conception Bay South’s incorporation. Organizers ensured the festival’s schedule this year contained an array of activities so that there is something that will appeal to everyone. Activities include a longer family fun day than previous years, hikes, paint nights, and more. “There’s a bit for everybody there,” said Barrett.

While tickets for the Garden Party concert come with a cover charge, most events during the Kelligrews Soiree are free, including the Family Folk Festival, which will run for five hours. Barrett describes the festival as a service the Town provides to residents. He said it is an opportunity for Conception Bay South residents to come together to celebrate their home, all it has to offer, and the “pride and the spirit that everybody has.”

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