Working Together. Winning Together.

  • November 2nd, 2017
  • By Steven Sparling

Like most people, I am hometown-proud. My family and I live and work in a village of 1005 people. It is a remarkable place. And aside from moving to Michigan to attend university, Blyth, Ontario has been my home of choice for a lifetime. This resilient place, smack dab in beautiful, rural Huron County is where I have learned valuable lessons in human behaviour, including the need for sincere collaboration, forward-looking cooperation – and about winning, together. Sure, it may be intangible EQ stuff, but the act of working together is the vital catalyst that feeds the unique brand of courage that characterizes places like Blyth. It is what gives communities like mine the ability to, “punch above their weight class” (Keith Roulston).

Resiliency, quiet optimism and the clear, unmistakable reality that we need to help one another to get things done creates opportunities for even the most unlikely and diverse teams of people. Wonderful people who rally with opinions, disagreement, agreement and ultimately, with great enthusiasm in support of projects simply because they matter. One such project is Campaign 14/19, a rambunctious initiative launched in 2013 with three ambitious objectives: 1. Refurbish Blyth Community Memorial Hall, our community’s living cenotaph and home to the nationally-acclaimed Blyth Festival; 2. Build the Canadian Centre for Rural Creativity, an incubator for all things rural, from public policy to creative arts, and; 3. Establish a Rural Trust to provide financial stability to the enterprise in lean times.

The first phase is complete (on-time and on-budget) and after a $4.2-million renovation, the fully-revitalized Memorial Hall is ready for another 20-years of laughter, tears and grateful remembrance. Along the way, funding from the Ontario and Canadian governments was integral to the Campaign’s success, but there were so many people who supported this project, in so many ways, with time, talent and treasure. From the famous Fare on 4 when 1,419 Guests were served a multi-course, plated dinner on Queen Street (Highway 4) to the Annual “South Comes North” Whisk(e)y Tasting, caring people who live far beyond Blyth have contributed energy and resources. Working together works.

The most recent example of this is the 4th Annual “South Comes North” – a Whisk(e)y Tasting & Food Pairing event held in support of Campaign 14/19. The idea came from a couple of fine friends from Tennessee, who are fond of bourbon and years ago, offered to host an event in Blyth. The first three tastings were held at Part II Bistro and Memorial Hall, and this year’s installment was hosted at Cowbell Brewing Co. Thanks to John Easton and the good people at Beam Suntory, Chef Alex Lussier and his creative Team our Cowbell Kitchen and West Chiles and Bob Henry, two big-hearted Tennesseans, we enjoyed another sold-out event and raised $12,000, bringing the four-year total donation total to over $20,000. This annual event is gaining momentum and the Cowbell Events Team is already planning for 2018. Stay tuned.

Until then, people in and believers beyond the village will continue quietly working together because one thing is crystal clear: when we are working together, we are winning together.