Some of the fireworks over Moosomin Lake during Canada's show on the Saturday night.

Biggest crowd ever for Living Skies Come Alive

August 14, 2017 8:31 am
Kevin Weedmark

More than 12,500 people through the gates:

It was the biggest crowd ever for the Living Skies Come Alive Fireworks Competition.

More than 5,485 people took in Canada’s fireworks show on Saturday night of the August long weekend, and 7,052 saw China’s fireworks show on the Sunday night.

Organizers said they are very happy with how the weekend went, and with the huge turnout.

CanFire represented Canada and did the fireworks show on Saturday night. FireShow represented China and did the performance Sunday night, and were declared the winners for the weekend.

Moosomin Regional Park was filled with people all weekend—there were more than 350 campers set up at the park.

“It exceeded our expectations in lots of ways,” said Layne McFarlane of the organizing committee. “It was without precedent.

“Last year we had 3,400-4,000 people each night. This year we wondered if we would reach 5,000 people. As it turned out we reached more than 7,000 on Sunday night, so we had as many people on Sunday night as we had for both nights last year.

“The good thing is that our structure, what we had set up with volunteers, was able to handle it. There were a few operational issues dealing with that number of people, but for the most part I have to say how pleased I was with the patience of the people, because there were lines, there were waits, it did take some time to get out of the parking lot.”

Laurie Renneberg of the organizing committee said she believes that making this year’s event an international event and including China led to a lot more interest.

“I think everyone wanted to see what China could do,” she said.

She said she heard a lot of positive comments on the weekend.

“I spoke to a couple who said they had to wait in line for an hour and a half but it was worth it because the fireworks were so good,” said Renneberg.

She said everything seemed to be well attended.

“For the sandcastle contest, I’ve never seen the beach so full with families helping their kids build sand castles. The human soccer was a really fun event and a lot of people were watching, and there were no major injuries. For the kids games on Saturday I had close to 100 kids. I used all my prizes for the kids on Saturday—I had to go buy more for Sunday. The Lion Dance went over so well, I think everyone enjoyed that. It’s something people have never seen before.

“Everything was very well attended.”

The huge crowd led to some things selling out.

“The 50-50 tickets sold out, and we could have sold a lot more,” said McFarlane. “I had people asking about them long after they were sold out.

“The burger bar sold out of everything around 8:30,” added Renneberg.

McFarlane said there were lots of good comments about the entertainment. “People really enjoyed both the bands,” he said.

“We’re really fortunate to have the entertainment we did have both nights. We just really started bringing that in last year. We were trying to fill in that gap between supper and the fireworks.

“I got a note from John Van Eaton from the Back 40 drifters saying they really enjoyed themselves as well.

“The fact that they were professional bands with lots of volume—you needed that in the open air, with the number of people we had.”

“I was so impressed with Mark Humphries as emcee,” added Renneberg. “We didn’t even hire him. We hired his son to do the sound and his son said he wanted to emcee if we didn’t have one, and he was great.”

Both Renneberg and McFarlane said they heard only positive comments on the weekend.

“I walked the parking lot and spoke with people who were waiting to leave, and a lot of people asked where the proceeds were going,” says McFarlane.

“I told them that the proceeds go to the park, and that seems to be something people were happy with. Of course, we have a major project coming up. The tenders are out there right now for a new water system. That will cost about $600,000. It isn’t tough to figure out where you’re going to put the money—in fact we’re looking for loans to pay off the project over a period of time.”

There have been no infrastructure grants approved for the water plant project.

“So we have a public park, and the proceeds are going to finance the expenditures required by the park to continue,” says McFarlane. “Which will benefit cabin owners, campers, and the public who used the park.”

All of the expenses aren’t in yet, so the organizers don’t know how much was raised this year.

What does the future hold for the fireworks competition? That remains to be seen.

“It’s reached a point where we have to really look at where this event has gone, and where we want it to go in the future,” said McFarlane. “We can’t make it any bigger. Do we limit attendance to 5,000 people, what types of things are we going to have. We really need to step back and look at things and brainstorm where we want to go from here. What better time to do that than when you’ve had an amazing year.

“In the past we’ve adjusted the entertainment and that sort of thing, but I think there needs to be a broader approach now.”

He said a lot of people deserve credit for the successful event.

“The management and staff of the park put in a lot of hours—there is so much extra work with an event this big.

“And I really want to thank the volunteers—they were amazing.”

“Everyone seemed to have a good time,” adds Renneberg. “Everyone was smiling and happy, I think it was great.”

“I think it’s good for our community,” said McFarlane. “It brings in so many people.”

“Lots of people left the park to go and explore Moosomin while waiting for the fireworks in the evening,” said Renneberg.

Sgt. Scott Fefchak of the Moosomin RCMP said there were no major incidents. “The partying and the drinking, that’s what people do, right? We really didn’t have a lot of calls given the number of people who were around,” he said.