Editorial column: The case for “branding” Sooke

Pirjo Raits looks at ways to entice people to visit Sooke and area

How about a summer festival?

There are two once popular Sooke events that have unfortunately fallen by the wayside over the  past few years.

One of the much-touted events was All Sooke Days and the other was the bluegrass festival and let’s not forget the folk music festival. These yearly events brought many people into Sooke and it was a pretty sad day for many when they ceased to exist. People are still unhappy with the demise of All Sooke Day, it’s mentioned all the time as an event that drew hundreds, if not thousands, of people to Sooke. How did it fall by the wayside? Why did we let this happen? Could it ever be resurrected if it had a enthusiastic group of volunteers?

So what do we have now and how can we “brand” Sooke?

The Sooke Fine Arts Show is our one and only highlight for 10 days during the summer and it draws in people from across the Island and from around the province and even into Washington State. It has history and it has amazing art. It is also held during the time of the best weather of the year.

So what if we were to make Sooke a destination by adding more events during the run of the Sooke Fine Arts Show?

We have a lot to offer in Sooke and it would be beneficial to everyone to start combining some of the events which have, in the past, drawn people to our town.

It would mean bringing different groups together to work for the good of all. How about bluegrass and folk music at John Phillips Memorial Park along with activities for kids and adults? That park has been totally under utilized and is a jewel in the middle of Sooke. The pond could be stocked with trout and could become a popular fishing event for kids or seniors.

We already have ball and soccer tournaments going on for the more athletic minded folks at various sports fields in Sooke. We can also play off the Sooke Subaru Triathlon with some others sportier events that might serve to keep those athletes in town for a little longer than the day of the race.

How about continuous music at Ed Macgregor Park, perhaps teen bands, folk music or even rock and roll? Schedule people to play there during the 10-day run of the SFA show. Ed Macgregor Park would then become the go-to place for locals and visitors and it would lead them down to our waterfront.

We could have craft/food booths along Eustace Road and a salmon barbecue at the Sooke Community Hall (there is already a barbecue pit there). The salmon barbecue could be used as a fund raiser for the community hall. What about a chowder cook off? Let’s draw people into the core of Sooke so we can showcase the incredible talent we have right here. We are unique with a lot to offer. We are a coastal seaside community, so let’s start making that happen by showcasing it. We don’t have to wait until the action starts taking place along the waterfront, we can plant the seeds of ideas now and watch them germinate.

Sooke and the region is in desperate need of something to keep people here for longer than an afternoon drive. If, along with the SFA show, we had complementary activities we could brand our town and bring folks in for a weekend and perhaps longer. It could happen if we wanted it to. We need it.

 

Pirjo Raits is the editor of the Sooke News Mirror.

editor@sookenewsmirror.com