Ask any ALHFAMer what they like most about the organization, and nine times out of ten, the answer is sure to be “the conferences,” which provide a chance to learn new skills, share ideas with like-minded folks, and experience new places. Regional conferences help to widen our reach, introducing sites to the magic of ALHFAM, and drawing people who may not have the time or resources to attend our annual meeting. So that’s why I was thrilled to have the Innisfail Historical Village step forward to host the first-ever Western Canada Regional Conference. Armed with a small team of staff and volunteers, and amazing community support, conference organizer Anna Lenters pulled off a fun and informative weekend for those who attended. Here are some of the highlights:
Saturday’s key note address was presented by Johnnie Bachusky, editor of the local paper, who shared his passion for documenting ghost towns across the Canadian prairies. Through his photographs of abandoned grain elevators, schools, churches, and service stations we found a kindred spirit dedicated to preserving the landscapes and stories of bygone communities.
A smorgasbord of sessions offered something for every interest as we learned strategies for training new interpreters, the history that can be revealed through quilts, costuming staff and volunteers, using music to enhance programming, social media for the utterly intimidated, and more.
Attendees also had a chance to wander the Historical Village, which is comprised of a dozen or so structures, checking out a fine collection of carefully restored farm implements and antique vehicles, and visiting with volunteer actors from the local community theatre who brought the past to life in the general store, school room and stopping house, highlighting a great local collaboration.
And of course a regional conference provides a great opportunity to sample local cuisine.
Saturday evening’s “Field to Fork” dinner was held at the Danish Canadian Museum, where we were treated to a three-course meal featuring food grown or sourced within a 100 km radius: Alberta beef, fresh veggies and potatoes, Saskatoon berries, and rhubarb from the Museum grounds, accompanied by refreshments from Olds College Brewery and Fallen Timbers Meadery! “Eating local” is a great way to connect with our agricultural roots. Continuing with tradition, the dinner also featured a silent auction that raised over $300 toward a Regional fellowship.
Susan is the Manager of Interpretation at Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, ALHFAM Representative for the Western Canada Region, and a former ALHFAM board member.