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Preserving Billy Barker Days by volunteering

Volunteers needed for 2023 festival
Debbie Wiens (left), Elaine Kopetski and Janice McLean helped volunteer with this year’s Billy Barker Days. (Rebecca Dyok photo — Quesnel Observer)

New volunteers are being sought on the heels of the 46th annual Billy Barker Days Festival.

Debbie Wiens, Janice McLean and Elaine Kopetski say they would be saddened if the free family festival has to be downscaled next year due to a lack of volunteers.

That is a real fear for the longtime volunteers as McLean and Kopetski move on to other things. McLean and Kopetski’s sister Mary Ann Kopetski also won’t be a part of next year’s festival.

“It’s time for us to take a break and somebody else comes forward,” McLean said. “It’s very important that people come forward now if they want the festival to happen.”

This year was extra time-consuming for volunteers who doubled or tripled up, taking on more tasks.

The number of volunteers is dwindling.

“We definitely need some help because our group is slowly getting older and smaller,” Wiens said. “People move away or retire, and it’s not something that we’ll be to do if we get much smaller.”

Fear of popular events at the festival being canceled or scaled back in the past led to several volunteers coming forward. Wiens, McLean and Kopetski hope the community will again rise to the occasion before it is too late.

The loss of Billy Barker Days would be a massive loss for the community and result in economic losses, as seen in previous cancellations due to wildfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The coolest thing is when the park is full of people, and everybody is out there having fun, and you go out there and you realize that we put it on,” McLean said of volunteering with Billy Barker Days. “It’s quite an accomplishment.”

McLean recalled how three children, a brother and two sisters, would be at the Billy Barker Days Headquarters excitedly waiting for the festival and then stop in during it smiling.

“People are just so excited, more so this year, but every year,” Kopetski said, noting their mascot Billy is well known. “It’s so much a part of the community.”

On Facebook, the Billy Barker Days Society posted it is seeking eager, energetic and committed people to join the society, a volunteer group that organizes and presents Billy Barker Days each year.

Wiens, McLean and Kopetski said life-long friendship often results.

“It is an incredible feeling to be part of it,” McLean said.

“You see things that you wouldn’t otherwise see and you get to be part of things that you wouldn’t otherwise be part of.”

Read More: PHOTOS: Lots of waves and smiles at Billy Barker Days parade

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