May 25th, 2024

Village of Stirling celebrating 125th anniversary


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on May 15, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

The Village of Stirling isn’t a big community, but after more than a century since its inception, it’s made some pretty big tracks in southern Alberta.

The village is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, and it sounds like it’s going to be one long party.

“It’s a huge milestone,” says Scott Donselaar, chief administrative officer for the village.

“When you look at Alberta as a province, we’re a fairly young province, but Stirling was one of the very first communities to be founded.”

Stirling’s existence, along with neighbouring communities, including Raymond and Magrath, was a result of the development of irrigation canals in the area.

“To make it a 125 years, be the largest village in Alberta, and hold a national historic designation, it’s pretty significant, and it just shows the forward thinking of the founders and the people that have come after them, to continue to drive this community forward and make it the great place to live and raise a family that it is.”

The 125th celebrations have already begun, and on May 6 the village held a birthday party, which was so well attended it actually ran out of food.

“That’s a good problem to have, I suppose,” Donselaar said.

The party was celebrated on the date the village was founded 125 years ago with only a handful of residents. Now there are more than 1,200 residents and the community continues to grow.

The next big party will be held July 18-20 during the annual Settler Days, the highlight of which will be a free concert on the morning of the 20th with southern Alberta country music sensation Trevor Panczak.

The Raymond band Saints and Sinners will perform in the afternoon, followed by a series of “massive events” culminating in a “gigantic” fireworks show.

“We usually put on a pretty decent (fireworks) show, and we doubled it for this year.”

Settler Days will kick off with Music on the Veranda at the Michelson farmstead, which includes entertainment by local talent and entertainers. This year there will also be an artisans display where local artists will teach skills and crafts.

On the 19th the village will host a movie in the park on a giant outdoor screen, as well as fire department demos and more activities in the evening.

“And then Saturday is basically an all-day event.”

And what would any celebration be without a parade? The parade runs on the Saturday and is particularly popular with children or anyone with a sweet tooth and willing to scramble for the candy that is thrown from the floats and other parade entries. The three-day celebration will also include a climbing wall and baseball tournament.

The village’s events committee is also planning a beefed-up Fall Festival to celebrate the 125th anniversary.

The festival is normally held on the third weekend of September, but Donselaar says the exact date has yet to be confirmed.

And before the year ends, there will be a special Christmas celebration.

“We usually do a Christmas event in the first week of December where we light up our kiosk. It’s called Christmas at the Kiosk, and, probably very similar to (Settler Days), they’ll be looking to do a lot with that one, as well.”

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