The Summer Stomp might be considered a work in progress.
Last Thursday evening, the Summer Stomp committee hosted a public open house in District of Sicamous council chambers. Though sparsely attended, there was still a healthy exchange of thoughts and opinions and the committee did not leave empty handed.
One of the first criticisms to come up wasn’t about the event, but how it was marketed. Laurie MacIntosh noted how neither the Stomp’s advertising posters nor the website made mention of the fact that the downtown event is free. He suggested the Stomp consider a unified approach to marketing with emphasis on the free festivities.
“Sicamous would embrace the Stomp as long as it’s going to bring people into the community, and I think there was an opportunity that could have brought people into this community that was completely missed,” said MacIntosh.
Stomp president Steve Hammer said there was upwards of 5,000 people at this year’s downtown event, many more than what was at the Stomp grounds at the municipal dog park where the adult part of the event takes place.
“We do the downtown event with the District of Sicamous,” said Hammer. “We put that event on and we give the beer gardens to the legion to help them out and the only thing that we get is the contribution from the District of Sicamous and a couple of dollars from some of the vendors we charge… It is really done to say thank you to Sicamous for allowing the Stomp to happen in Sicamous. But there’s five times the number of people (downtown). I’d love to see 20,000 people.”
It was later noted that advertising for the Stomp (posters, etc.) began well in advance of the committee being able to confirm that financial support would be coming from the district for the downtown event. It was suggested that approval come sooner and advertisements cover the whole picture of what the Stomp has to offer.
The police presence at this year’s Stomp was also commented on, with resident Terry Martin questioning whether the event is worthy of anybody’s time if it’s costing the province for the extra policing.
Hammer agreed policing was excessive but that it was the call of the local staff sergeant.
“He did what he did because he thought that’s what he had to do, nobody is going to tell him any different…,” said Hammer. “I’ve talked until I was blue in the face about, we’ve had 26 years of absolutely no problems, we have our own kind of policing on our own grounds, and it fell on deaf ears.”
District town manager Evan Parliament later explained how under the contract the Province of British Columbia has with the RCMP, communities with a population of 5,000 people or less do not pay for policing. He also noted the Sicamous RCMP’s new detachment commander is expected to begin work in the community on Aug. 22. The detachment has been without a sergeant for about a year.
As for what financial benefit the Stomp brings to the community, district recreation manager Jamie Sherlock said local businesses like the event, that it keeps the community hopping during the otherwise slow Calgary Stampede weekend.
“What this does is it brings in an extra event, which is putting extra people in our beds, our motels our full, our restaurants are full, our liquor stores are busy, Askew’s is busy like crazy, so what does that do, it creates jobs in our community,” said Sherlock.
New district operations manager (and longtime motorcycle rider) Joe McCulloch also had some feedback on the event. First, he said things like people revving their bikes at two or three in the morning tend to irritate people, and that there needs to be a better handle on after-hours noise.
Second, McCulloch suggested the Stomp could benefit by making some outreach effort focused on Sicamous’ senior population.
“This is a senior-citizen driven community and an awful lot of seniors here do feel quite intimidated because of a lack of education, a lack of a real understanding of who bikers are – they immediately look at bikers and think one group, one type of person…,” said McCulloch.
Wade Stewart, who oversaw the Stomp’s downtown event this year, thought this was a great idea. Despite the success of this year’s downtown event, he noted there’s room for improvement.
Hammer concurred, noting he would like to build on the Main Street event and see attendance numbers increase.
“What we want over the next few years is to have the downtown event to be the big draw, and the event out there to be kind of just the campground for people that just want to go and hang around the campfire,” said Hammer
For those who did not attend the open house, the district is preparing a survey for the public and businesses to provide feedback on this year’s Summer Stomp.