Celebration Parts I & II

When is a party not a party? When it’s run by the government! Or, in this case, not by government but by a not-for-profit that definitely smells like a government initiative. Such was the case this fine holiday weekend, when the smoldering crater of apathy that was Celebrate BC wheezed into action at the Plaza of Nations. It sounds like a neat idea – celebrate BC’s “culture, food and cuisine, entertainment, products, business, industry and tourism” – unfortunately, a lot of those elements were either missing or in short supply.

Food? Well, sure, you could spring $25 for the wine and cheese tasting, or $20 for the fresh food tasting – but how many people could you reasonable expect would do that? Not exactly a family friendly thing, now is it? Wouldn’t it have made sense to have a farmer’s market with local produce on display and for sale? How about a cooking demo or two by some of the local chefs? For those who couldn’t attend the existing “BC” food events, the food fare was limited to some decidedly non-BC food fare: burgers, hot dogs and the like. Go BC cuisine!

Industry had an equally poor showing – none of the companies in attendance were what I would consider “showcase” quality. Where were the big companies, the BC guys who made it on the world stage? Other than a few small players, the industry, business, technology, and tourism segments were poorly represented at the event. And where were the local craftsmen and the artisans?

Though culture had a better showing, with the main stage featuring local performance groups, the big main events were big dollar concerts. The culture beyond the main stage was thin on the ground, expanding the definition of culture to include local sports teams. In fact, local sports teams seemed to make up the majority of the “culture” booths.

Sad. Truly sad. Further confirmation of my earlier sentiments on BC pride.

Meanwhile, across town a real party swung into action on Sunday with the Vancouver Pride 2003 parade in the West End. Pretty impressive for a community that just earned the scorn of the Pope. The antithesis of Celebrate BC, the parade lasted an exhausting two hours and featured not only businesses and local organizations from the gay community, but a significant number of local political leaders. Heck, they even got Hedy Fry to wear a costume straight out of Rio de Janeiro.

The message is clear: if you want to celebrate, find some organizers who actually know the meaning of the term “celebration” and the lyrics to boot.