The future of First Saturdays in Kimberley

Partnerships, volunteers required to keep initiative going

First Saturdays began in Kimberley this past summer as a  way to drive traffic into the downtown area and create something to fill the void left by the loss of KIOTAC. There is no doubt the concept as a whole was successful, and several of the Saturdays were very well attended indeed. Recently stakeholders met to discuss the successes and where improvements could be made.

The First Saturdays concept is a simple one ­— on the first Saturday of every month in the tourist season, get enough events going at the same time to attract people. In other words give people a reason to get out and enjoy what Kimberley has to offer.

First Saturdays were championed by the Kimberley Arts Council in 2013, and the Council’s Carol Fergus says they are willing to take the lead again next year, but would hope others get on board as well.

“We had about 15 people attend the meeting,” Fergus said. “But there were many more who were unavailable. We are hoping to have another meeting and maybe attract more people who have a vested interest in the Platzl.

“The Arts Council will champion it again. We don’t want to see it die. Ideally, we’d like to see some other group take the lead, maybe the events coordinator the City hired would be the one to take charge of this.”

There are already some partnerships for First Saturdays. For instance, Tourism Kimberley is behind it and will support advertising for the coming year.”

Last year First Saturdays had a Creative Communities grant that supported renting the sound systems and providing the musical acts.

“We have to find some money for that,” Fergus said. “It costs roughly $1,000 to have entertainment in the Platzl each First Saturday, and that is vital. As long as there is an activity on stage, people stayed. When the music stopped, people left.”

Columbia Basin Trust funded $1500 the community concert in August jointly with Kimberley Alpine Resort ($500( and in-kind services.

There is a bit of a fund left from last year. About $700 in donations was collected at the free concert last year. In addition, Ruth Ramden (Downtown Deli) made a donation of $100 and Kootenay Insurance Services made a donation of $220.

One of the more successful First Saturdays this past summer was Oktoberfest. It was also the one that got the most buy in from the business community. The hope for next year is to have more businesses involved in each one.

The other big need is volunteers.

“We need people willing to give time to set up and take down, contact artisans and more. There are lots of jobs available,” Fergus said. “You don’t have to do it every time. That’s what made it happen was dedicated volunteers.”

If you are interested in volunteering next year, or in getting involved in the planning for next year, contact Emily Smith at 250-427-5726 or Carol Fergus at 250-427-3776.