After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, Founders Day returns this year on July 15 to 17 to celebrate the 125th birthday of Greenwood, Canada’s smallest city, located just outside of Grand Forks, B.C.
The event historically takes place on the second weekend in July as Greenwood was incorporated on July 12, 1897. All of the events for the weekend will be held in Lions Park, just outside the downtown core along Highway 3.
The event will also commemorate a more somber historical event, as this year marks 80 years since Canada’s first Japanese Canadian Internment camp was set up in Greenwood in 1942 during World War 2.
Janet Matsalla, who along with Donna Durban are the coordinators of the event, said there is a ton of awesome entertainment lined up for the 125th celebration of Greenwood. Matsalla lives just outside of Greenwood at Jewel Lake and worked for Founders Day for five years before taking a year off. She was then asked to come back on board this year.
Matsalla said organizing began last August, and because she’s done it before she’s not starting from scratch after two years off due to COVID, and there is a lot of excitement about being able to hold an outdoor event again.
“Everybody’s excited,” she said. “A lot of people are coming to meet up with old neighbours, friends that they haven’t seen in years, so it’s a great social event in that aspect.”
The weekend will kick off on Thursday, July 14 with a showing of the 1999 film Snow Falling On Cedars starring Ethan Hawke and Max von Sydow, which was filmed in Greenwood. The movie will be shown in the historic courthouse where the film was actually shot.
Matsalla is also in talks currently with David Guterson, the author of the 1994 novel the movie was based off of, who may come to do a speaking presentation as well.
Founders Day will officially kick off at 8 a.m. with a pancake breakfast, with a parade to follow at 11 a.m.
There is a huge list of entertainers for the weekend, which can be found at www.foundersday.ca, but notably this year is headliner Darby Mills, formerly of Canadian rock band the Headpins, performing live with her band PresSPlay.
The event is free and although Greenwood is small at just around 665 people, it draws a big crowd.
“This year’s different, when we had our 120th which I did do, we had over 3000 people come through the two days,” Matsalla said. “We’re right along Highway 3 at Lions Park so we’re quite visible, and the entertainment this year is just incredible.”
There will be plenty of entertainment right up until 11 p.m. on the Saturday, with the Hillside Outlaws closing out the evening from 9 -11. The Laughing Loggers will also perform both Saturday and Sunday. Darby Mills will be the finale of the weekend and will start at around 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.
There will also be a Kidz Zone and face painting, a beer garden, a wood carving artist, a blacksmithing demo and a vendors marketplace.
If you are interested in becoming a vendor or a volunteer, signing up for the parade or are in need of any other information, you can contact Janet Matsalla at email@example.com or 250-444-0145
The event relies on a pillar of volunteer support and a great host of sponsors and donors, all of whom can be found on the official website www.foundersday.ca or facebook.com/foundersday