Hay Days standing on solid ground in Hay River

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Except for the fact that Hay Days did not happen in 2016, this year would have seen the 10th edition of the music, arts and culture festival.

Still, nine out of 10 years is not too shabby, and something worth reflecting on and celebrating, especially since the festival now appears to be on a rock-solid foundation.

It is especially worth recalling that Hay River – the second biggest community in the NWT – never had a music, arts and culture festival until Hay Days was created. That seems somewhat unbelievable to contemplate from the vantage point of 2019.

In fact, Hay River was the only major community in the NWT without a music festival. There were music festivals almost everywhere, even in Hay River’s much smaller neighbour Enterprise, where the Gateway Jamboree had been held for years and is still going strong today.

There never seemed to be a good answer to the question of why Hay River never had a music festival. It just didn’t.

It is even stranger to think that Hay River never had a music festival when it had many talented musicians, just as it does today.

Yet, that was how things were right up to 2010 – no music festival even though the idea had been kicked around for years.

In 2018, Shane Daniels and the Usual Suspects – including Theron Daniels, left, and Shane Daniels – performer at the Saturday Night Shaker.
Photo courtesy of Hay Days Festival

It wasn’t until musician Randy Randle proposed a music festival to town council that the wheels were set in motion that rather quickly resulted in Hay Days.

In The Hub of Feb. 15, 2010, Randle is quoted as saying, “I definitely think it would fly in Hay River. I think it’s long overdue, actually.”

Randle also suggested a name for the festival, either Hay Day or Hay Days.

In June of 2010, the first Hay Days was held.

Not long afterwards, Randle left Hay River to return to his home province of British Columbia. The festival carried on under the Hay River Music, Arts and Culture Society, and an organizing committee of community residents.

Hay Days was not held in 2016 because of a lack of volunteers.

We recount that history because it is good to know where Hay Days came from to appreciate where it now stands.

In 2017, the festival was revived under the Rotary Club of Hay River Sunrise.

From our observations of various events and programs over the years, the Rotary Club doesn’t mess around, and we mean that in the best way possible. It is a solid organization with solid people, and a dedication to doing good things for the community.

Randy Randle as founder and the other organizers and volunteers over the years have to be thanked and recognized for their contributions to Hay Days.

We think that they and hopefully everyone else in Hay River will recognize that Hay Days is now being run by a great organization.

One interesting word we heard when preparing articles for this Hay Days special edition of The Hub was ‘longevity’. The Rotary Club is not just thinking about the festival this year, but the festival for years to come.

Without a doubt, Hay Days is in good hands.