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Hearing Billy Barker’s call

Organizers optimistic for summer event’s revival
Volunteers with this past year’s Billy Barker Days fold up a canvas tent following a successful festival at LeBourdais Park. (Rebecca Dyok photo — Quesnel Observer)

By Frank Peebles

Staff writer

The Billy Barker name has drawing power even in the 21st century.

For almost 50 years (stuck at 46, thanks to wildfire and pandemic) Billy Barker Days has been Quesnel’s signature summer event. A few years of cancellations took away a lot of momentum, though, and in recent weeks it became clear to the remaining organizers that they were on the brink of losing yet another year.

They put out a call for help, and like the gold rush linked forever to Billy Barker’s name, the prospectors are starting to arrive, only the treasure today is community spirit and summertime fun.

“The response was great,” said Maureen Murray, the past president and souvenir director for the Quesnel Billy Barker Days Society, talking about the people who have come forward after a letter to the editor urging new volunteers to come forward as leaders of the organization.

“We also had several past life members return to active participation at meetings,” Murray added, “in particular, Barry McKillican who was elected president last week. He has been our paid sound contractor for years, as well as providing, on a volunteer basis, most names for stage entertainers. He now plans on attending our regular monthly meetings, not done in many years, and chairing our festival activities which hopefully will now go ahead in 2023.”

Read More: LETTER TO EDITOR: Quesnel’s Billy Barker Days 2023 festival at risk of cancellation

It is only a start. Murray urged more people to come forward. Many areas of expertise are in need of leaders and committee members. The influx of help is encouraging, but the society is calling on all those interested in having Billy Barker Days get back on solid footing to come out to a Dec. 8 meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the former site of The Occidental.

“I will feel more confident after the eighth,” she said, “but our event could well proceed if even half of the people showing interest, actually sign on as active members attending our meetings and working on events and projects for 2023.”

There are many arrangements that can be made to orient new members to the Billy Barker Days organization process. If you would prefer to shadow an existing director, take on a small role leading to a larger one over time, or just dive right in wherever the need might be, there are possibilities for you.

If interested, said Murray, “contact any society directors you may already know, or leave a message at our office.” The phone number is 250-992-1234, and the email address is

Read More: Preserving Billy Barker Days by volunteering

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About the Author: Black Press Media Staff

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