Bev Caldwell is much more comfortable working behind the scenes than being in the spotlight. So it was fitting that the longtime Creston Valley Blossom Festival organizer was honoured as the Creston Valley citizen of the year on Friday night.
In making the presentation at the festival’s opening ceremonies at Prince Charles Auditorium, Creston Valley Rotary Club president Howard Colwell spoke of the challenge in keeping the award a surprise.
“Bev Caldwell, until this very minute, thought she knew who was the recipient of the citizen of the year award, and it was not her!” Colwell told the audience. “This has been the best and probably the only secret ever kept at Town Hall! Thanks to all who have helped keep Bev in the dark and so surprised this evening.”
Blossom Festival chair Joanna Wilson said on Monday that when her name was announced, Caldwell initially refused to get up from her seat in the audience.
“She kept saying, ‘They made a mistake, they got it wrong!’ ” Wilson said.
No error was made, however.
“Bev Caldwell is the executive assistant for the Town of Creston, and has her finger on the pulse of this community daily,” Colwell continued. “Over and above her commitments to her employer, Bev has given tirelessly of her own personal time annually volunteering countless hours, most of them behind the scenes of the Blossom Festival organizing committee. Her dedication has lasted for many, many years and in so many ways, giving of her time and talents. And, but for this nomination and deserving award, her efforts would be largely unknown to the public at large.
“Bev has singlehandedly produced many of the annual Blossom Festival buttons, and her pride in the success of Blossom Festival is always displayed by her engaging, enthusiastic wearing of the Blossom costume promoting sales of the buttons to raise funds every year to ensure financial success. For each person who bought, held or is currently wearing a Blossom Festival button, you are touched by the hands of this tremendously talented, deeply dedicated and community minded individual.
“Bev’s commitment to Creston and the Creston Valley is not limited to Blossom Festival. She has served over 30 years providing her talents to local government, benefitting each of us in ways we may never know. Bev Caldwell is well known and respected by all who come in contact with our Town Hall, and has held many positions of significant responsibility, including chief electoral officer. Her selection tonight acknowledges that Bev has demonstrated a lasting and meaningful contribution to the community above and beyond her job or occupation, and someone who has always shown pride in our/her community, without expectation of reward or recognition.”
To mark the occasion, Caldwell was presented with a floral arrangement from Morris Flowers, and gift certificates from Real Food Cafe, A&W, Jimmy’s Pub, Dairy Queen, Gin’s on Canyon, Sun R Restaurant and Kokanee Inn Pub.
“Thank you,” she said in accepting the honour. “There are so many others who are more deserving, but I am truly honoured.”
The sold-out auditorium was treated to opening words by MC Dave Handy before Mayor Ron Toyota and Regional District of Central Kootenay Area C director Larry Binks officially declared the 75th Creston Valley Blossom Festival open.
“Let’s put this in perspective,” Handy said. “75 years ago, not long after the Great Depression and only a few years after recovering from the disastrous floods of 1938 — and while our country was still embroiled in the Second World War with many locals serving overseas — a festival was born.
“Records show that the local Lions Club spearheaded original efforts to hold a carnival to have some activity at the Park Pavilion, now known as Centennial Park. In 1943 it became the Blossom Festival, and in 1951 the event took place on the May long weekend. That tradition has continued to the present. The Lions Club conducted the festival until 1960, when the Blossom Festival association was formed, and it still leads this festival today.
“The tradition continue, and there remains a determined effort by the citizens of the Creston Valley to keep the heritage of the Blossom Festival alive today.”
Entertainment for the event was provided by the Fab Fourever (left), a Beatles tribute band from Kelowna. As the group performed a string of Beatles hits, replete with several costume changes, the audience joined in to sing along with many of the world’s most familiar songs, many leaving while still singing the familiar refrain from “Hey Jude”.