Jarvie Days a mix of old and new
Hamlet's population swells to 500 for the long weekend
“It’s always better than what it was the year before.”
This is high praise for Jarvie Days, coming from a man who has attended the hamlet’s annual festival for more than four decades. Fred van de Ligt even spent several years organizing the event, although he has stepped back to let new people with new ideas run the show.
This year, there were many of the events people have come to appreciate over the years, like the parade, the slo-pitch tournament, the horseshoe tournament, a pie-eating contest and a jamboree.
And one thing that never changes, and in fact helps draw a crowd that sees the hamlet’s population rise from 100 to 500 for the weekend, is the fact Jarvie Days ends up being the time and the place when old friends and old family are reunited if only for a weekend.
“You meet tons of friends you only see once per year,” van de Ligt said. “Everyone who used to live here comes back for the weekend.”
He and Calvin Beamish, another long-time resident, fondly recalled some of the events that took place in previous years that have stuck in their memories.
For example, there was a kind of jousting competition where two people would sit on poles about four feet off the ground and let loose.
“We each had a gunny sack; I think they had straw in them,” van de Ligt said. “We’d have to hit each other off.”
“We used to have a lot of those kinds of games,” Beamish said, adding he always liked the grass skis and the egg-toss event, as well.
Both men also said there used to be a raft race down the Pembina, although that ended some time in the 1980s.
“It got a lot of people, and it got to be a bit dangerous,” Beamish said.
For van de ligt, the fact that the events keep changing — with old ones dying off and new ones taking their place — is a big part of what makes Jarvie Days great.
“You do a thing until the interest dies off, then you do something else,” he said. “Like the car show. This is the first year for that.”
There were definitely some eye-catching vehicles in the car show, but certainly few were surprised when Kevin Smith took first place with his recently acquired 1926 Ford Model T Roadster.
He was happy to show the vehicle off to anyone who was interest, explaining he had just bought it at an estate sale several months ago.
“It was quite a challenge learning how to drive it,” he laughed.
That model came out before the pedal configuration seen in most modern vehicles became standard. The transmission is controlled by the same lever that engages the parking brake, the throttle is a level on the steering column and there are separate pedals for forward and reverse.
Despite its age, Smith said the vehicle can still get up to a pretty good clip — 50 miles per hour. Considering there is no power steering or seat belts, however, he said that’s not necessarily advisable.
“It’s scary,” he said.
Smith came from the Pibroch area to show off his new wheels, and many came from even further away to check out the action.
Bianca Hannula came from Edmonton so she and her family could spend some time with some old friends, although she said this year was her first time ever in the hamlet during the summer festival.
“It was awesome. It’s a beautiful place and a beautiful day. It’s very picturesque here; what a great place for a parade,” she said. “We’ll be back. It’s a beautiful hamlet.”
Debra Frew, along with her husband and children, traveled all the way from Pennsylvania to take in the festival. She grew up in the Jarvie area, and likes to come back to spend a month in the area every summer.
“We come every summer,” she said. “There’s lots to do for multiple families.”
Her husband Birch, a Pennsylvania native, said he was pleased to be able to attend the festival for the first time.
“This is my first Jarvie Days; I’m having a lot of fun,” he said.
As for their children, the shouts and giggles coming from inside the inflatable bouncy castle seemed to indicated that they, along with every other child in town that day, were all in agreement.
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