Canada Day at Home — a virtual event — will replace the normally well-attended Steveston Salmon Festival on July 1, the biggest event usually put on by the Steveston Community Society and the Richmond Agricultural and Industrial Society.
While organizers are disappointed they can’t create the “old-time pioneer feeling” this year in-person — including the annual parade, salmon barbecue and myriad other community activities — Alan Sakai, president of the society, said everyone understands health and safety come first.
Planning for the festival usually starts in September and includes participation from many volunteer groups, for example, the Rod & Gun Club, the judo club, the kendo club, the garden club, and a lot of the joy in the event is planning it together, he added — volunteers, youth, community members coming together to create the event.
Right now the focus is on creating an online event, inviting Richmondites to submit photos of how they are celebrating Canada Day while isolating and physically distancing,
Richmond residents are encouraged to decorate their front lawns and driveways and to dress up in red and white to create a “virtual parade.” Photos from residents’ Canada Day celebrations – in their respective family bubbles — can be posted to the city’s Instagram @FunRichmond with the hashtag #RichmondBCParade.
The main goal of the Salmon Festival is to bring people together, but this year it will be done by keeping everyone apart, Sakai said.
“That’s the sign of a community when, whatever we have to do to keep everyone healthy and safe, we do it,” Sakai said.
The cancellation of a major community event and reinvention as a virtual event, though, has had its lessons for the community, Sakai said, and he’s impressed with how the community has pulled together during the pandemic.
“What it really means to be a community and cooperate together has really been tested,” Sakai said. “I think the people in Steveston have really risen to that.”
With the community centre and other public spaces shut down and many people going through hardships, Sakai said the city and citizens of Richmond have worked together, even when it means tackling the “tough stuff.”
“These kinds of things happen and we have to find ways to work through them,” he added.
But the group is already planning 2021 Salmon Festival, Sakai said, which will be its 75th event. They are collecting stories and photos that people have of past festivals.
“I’m being hopeful and positive that we’ll be together in 2021,” he said.
This year, however, Sakai is looking forward to monitoring social media sites on the Canada Day festivities — to see what his fellow Richmondites share — and dressing up and spending the day with his family including his children and grandchildren, albeit “in a safe way.”
“I’m sure we’ll figure something out — whether we’re all on our driveway or on the street corner waving,” Sakai said.
The Richmond Canada Day virtual events will also be interspersed with national events, Sakai explained, and there will be things going on from early in the morning until the evening when there will be a virtual Canada Day fireworks display.
The day will start with an online address from the city’s mayor, Malcolm Brodie, singing of O Canada led by Steveston resident Audrey De Boer and a video about the Steveston Salmon Festival starting at 9:45 a.m.
At 10 a.m., the “home parade” begins — activities on how to prepare along with a program schedule can be found at www.richmond.caéCanadaDay.
At 7 p.m., there will be a Lower Mainland-wide singing of O Canada and at 10 p.m. there will be virtual fireworks.
Updates on Canada Day at Home will also be posted at @FunRichmond on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.