Jack Gallagher, Jim Davidson, Frank Jameson, and two unknown men participate in a beard growing competition (Ladysmith Historical Society photo)

From Dogwood Days to Ladysmith Days – A history of seaside heritage

Despite changes, the spirit of Ladysmith Days has endured

As far back as Barry Frech can remember, there’s been some type of celebration for Ladysmith Days. He believes it started in 1964-65’ as “Dogwood Days”.

Frech has been involved in planning Ladysmith Days for around 30 years. Before he was an organizer, he was a participant in Dogwood Days. There’s an old photo of Frech from the Ladysmith Historical Society that shows Frech anchoring the line in a tug-of-war. According to Frech, he and his team won.

Frech said that the Town and other Island communities were very involved in Ladysmith Days. Merchants would run sidewalk sales throughout the weekend, and host their own competitions. Some held 24-hour rocking chair competitions, and a mattress jumping marathon. There would be beard growing competitions and awards given out for “most beautiful legs”.

“Constantly, the whole street was busy,” Frech said. “We used to have a triathlon. Horseshoe pitching was going on. There was all kinds of involvement.”

Over time, attachment to technology has disrupted participation in Ladysmith Days. Frech said that the celebration has also seen challenges since it moved from mid-July to August long weekend. Sunfest has been a competitor to Ladysmith Days, as has other events on the Island. August long weekend is also the last long weekend of the summer, and many families go away on trips.

“We were getting a lot of rain when we used to hold it in July. The committee and myself decided to move it to August. Well people knew it was happening in July, so I had boats anchored out there in the harbour in the third weekend of July waiting for it to happen. I had to send the police out there and tell them Ladysmith Days had changed,” Frech said.

“And then when I changed it to the same weekend of the festival, it showed that people are dedicated to Ladysmith Days. We get anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 people at Ladysmith Days over the weekend, so what does that tell you? The ones that want to take Ladysmith Days in, their kids are happy, and that’s a good thing,” he added.

Frech hopes that other communities will embrace Ladysmith Days in the way they used to. He’s working alongside Dave Key with the Ladysmith Celebration Society to put Ladysmith Days on the map once again.

Despite modern day challenges to the celebrations, Frech says there is no other celebration like Ladysmith Days. It’s an event by the people of Ladysmith, for the people of Ladysmith, put on by the people of Ladysmith.

 

Dave McKay, Harold Rutti and Barry Frech along with some unknown men pull hard in tug-of-war (Ladysmith Historical Society photo)

Just Posted

LRCA Concerts in the Park series presents: Beatlemania Unplugged

This will be the final Concerts in the Park event of the summer

Arts on the Avenue turns 21 this weekend

1st Avenue will have a weekend full of arts on display Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon

Ladysmith gallery hosts Island Living Art Show

Nanaimo Arts Council exhibition opens at the Waterfront Gallery on Aug. 24

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Nanaimo Ladysmith education support workers’ deal ratified

CUPE Local 606, Nanaimo school district and bargaining agent ratify deal, which runs till June 2022

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Groups ready campaign to help young voters identify ‘fake news’ in election

The media literacy campaign to focus on identifying misinformation and suspicious sources online

Big rally in northern B.C. draws attention to continuing lumber crisis

Mayor Joan Atkinson says about 400 workers have been directly affected by the closure of the Canfor mill

Orangeville Northmen take Minto Cup at Langley Events Centre

Swept best-of-five series 3-0 over Victoria Shamrocks

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

UPDATE: Crown cross-examines B.C. father accused of killing daughters

Andrew Berry is charged in the deaths of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey in 2017

Dog attacked by river otters, Penticton owner says

Marie Fletcher says her dog was pulled underwater by four river otters in the Penticton Channel

BC SPCA overwhelmed with cats, kittens needing homes

Large number of cruelty investigations, plus normal ‘kitten season’ to blame

Most Read