Blyth's Hometown Holiday Weekend hailed as a success - Dec. 6, 2018
BY DENNY SCOTT
The word to describe the Blyth Business Improvement Area’s (BIA) Hometown Holiday Weekend in Blyth is ‘fantastic’ according to organizers.
Weekend organizer and Blyth Festival Artistic Director Gil Garratt said the event “exceeded all expectations.”
“The community support going in was way beyond what we expected,” he said. “The uptake for business sponsors and vendors with the night market was more than we expected. In all, there was a phenomenal response to the weekend.”
The Hometown Holiday Weekend kicked off on Friday with the lighting of the lights, unveiling of the #FlowerMeBlyth installation, night market and a special concert called “A (Really) Retro Crooner Christmas” performed by LINK Theatre.
The concert brought in 100 people, Garratt said, and while he wished there could have been more, he said the people that did come were in for a real treat with the show.
“The people who saw it said it was great,” he said. “I was sitting with one of our volunteers, Nellie Mason, and she sang alongside every tune through the whole show.”
Garratt described the show as an “old, corny 1960s/1970s television Christmas special”.
“The music was incredible,” he said. “There was a three-piece band with piano, drums and bass and it was fantastic.”
While organizers weren’t sure whether the night market, which featured vendors with everything from seasonal gift ideas to essential oils, would find an audience, Garratt said the event was “packed”.
“We kept it going until 11 p.m. because people were interested in it,” he said. “The shopping was fantastic.”
Garratt was also impressed with the number of people who attended the events whom he hadn’t seen in years.
“The community spirit was really there,” he said. “This isn’t just a Christmas event, it’s about the hometown, and it had a real sense of that thanks to everyone involved.”
The weekend also featured a breakfast put on by the Blyth Firefighters’ Association, which was very well attended Garratt said with 300 people enjoying breakfast.
He said that Dalton Richmond, the organization’s representative, did a fantastic job organizing the event and helping out.
Garratt also said that Paul Hallahan of Orr Insurance was a great help for the weekend, helping the BIA navigate the “increasingly complicated world” of running events like the parade.
Annie Sparling, who organized the parade and the dog show over the weekend, said she was blown away by the participation and attendance at the event.
“It was amazing,” she said. “The parade had over 60 floats and, while we wanted 500 people out to see the parade, I’ve had some people say they think it was close to 1,000.”
The dog show was well attended, she said, with prizes being awarded in three categories: large, medium and small.
The large dog award went to Jen Croft’s Great Dane Pippen, the medium to Kate Kuehl’s Basset Hound Earl and the small breed trophy was won by Kevin Gross and Mandy Weber’s Cookie Dough.
“It was really fun,” Sparling said.
As for next year, she said it would be tough to top this year, but the committee plans to do just that, adding that members deserve recognition for the work they had done.
“The committee was fearless and driven and just kept doing what needed to be done,” she said.