The festival I coordinate (Babas and Borshch Ukrainian Festival) is about a month away. This will be the third year and considerably easier on my nerves. When I recall the number of nights in 2013 that I laid staring at the ceiling, and the clock, I know many things have gotten easier. On those nights when I couldn’t quiet my mind I eventually crossed the hall to my office and began working at two or three in the morning. Obviously, that is not desirable behaviour for several reasons.
So, while I’m as busy as ever, the work at this point in the schedule is more fun, more creative. I spent Sunday salvaging the branches and trunks of a birch tree we cut down last year. Birch has become a hot, yet rustic décor feature in retail spaces and planters. Regardless of how (and how much) I use they will tie in with the four painted mural sections I discovered in storage at the local community hall. The birch tree panels would have provided the backdrop for the year-end concert when there was a Ukrainian dance club in town. At nearly one hundred inches tall and sixty some inches wide per panel they will make an impact this year.
Add the red poppies that are so symbolic of Ukrainian imagery and suddenly you’ve got a theme. I still need to create a prototype for the centerpieces for the evening Zabava (party) and other thematic vignettes for the lobby, the stage, the bazaar area. The trick is doing as much as possible in advance for as little money as possible. (Thank God for dollar stores and imagination). The challenge is making sure all these pieces can fit into a utility trailer and withstand the handling of volunteers.
Also on the agenda is taping another World FM radio interview and co-hosting the morning show of a Fort Saskatchewan radio station. No doubt there will be some TV appearances as well. I’ve had to get over my aversion to this aspect of the job and now try to have fun with it. Easier said than done.
Like every other thing under the sun, festivals either grow or die. Growth means introducing new and exciting aspects to attract new and repeat visitors. Every new thing brings with it new challenges and the need to locate people to do it, to create processes and forms, to find suppliers, to promote the latest, greatest thing. This year we’re launching the Baba Magda Fan Club for our in-character and in-costume face of the festival. That’s meant a photo shoot, setting up a sign-up form on Wufoo to create a database, creating a design template for the exclusive newsletter for members, and God help me, writing the content for said newsletter. A joke, some down-home grandmotherly advice, and perhaps a recipe are what I’m considering. How hard can any of this be with thirty days to go, from where I sit?
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.