Eganville – There’s an old saying that goes, “If you build it, they will come.”

Over the weekend in Bonnechere Valley (BV) Township, it can now be said, ‘If you hold it, they will come,” as attendance at the many March Madness events exceeded all expectations.

BV Councillor Tracey Sanderson chaired the committee that recruited many partners in the community to host an amazing array of events that catered to young and old and everyone in between.

“It exceeded expectations 100 per cent,” she remarked. “And I find so many in the community are very happy and have asked if we’re going to do more of these things.

“We’ve had a number of people raising their hands, wanting to volunteer,” she added. “I haven’t heard one negative comment, even though we had line-ups at the bumper cars and gaming truck.”

A native of the area who returned to Eganville three years ago, Coun. Sanderson remembers the different events that were held here in years past and is delighted this event may kickstart a renewal of those types of things.

The Bonnechere Museum hosted the artisan market and entertainment Saturday afternoon and showed the movie, “Night at the Museum” in the evening.

“I feel really proud because it’s been so long since I’ve been a part of it here,” she said, explaining being in the museum felt special as her mom was born there and her great-grandfather was the caretaker. “So having that event at the museum, it just felt like home.”

“They’re hoping we can do it on a regular basis because it was just like being at someone’s house,” she said of the movie night.

Despite a minimal amount of time to pull everything together, she said everything turned out well for the first three days, making the planning, stress and lack of sleep worth it.

Kyla Desjardins has been Coun. Sanderson’s right-hand woman since the start of the planning and they were assisted by Michelle Hyriski, who was contracted through the funding received, to look after the promotion. Coun. Sanderson said Dana Bartlett, the economic development and planning/zoning officer in BV also deserves a great deal of thanks her involvement.

Coun. Sanderson said the youth dance Friday night attracted a record 150 kids and the open mic and Learn To Curl Session at the Curling Club was very well attended. Saturday’s pancake breakfast hosted by the Eganville Rotary Club at the Eagles Nest had 120 patrons, two cats were adopted at the Whiskers and Alley Cats adoption at the Tourist Centre, and an estimated 200 people enjoyed the horse and wagon rides provided by teamster Mansel Jaimeson.

“He was full each trip,” she said.

The artisan market at Bonnechere Museum was filled with vendors and visitors enjoyed the entertainment provided by The Greystreet Duo and the food from Farm to Fork of the Ottawa Valley Food Co-op.

“It was a huge success; we had a full house. It was the best kitchen party you could have.

“Everybody was really thankful for the opportunity and the museum was a nice, intimate space. You felt like you were in someone’s home.”

After a quick rearrange for movie night, the line-up outside started at 6 for the 6:30 opening of the doors. She estimated 120 kids attended, some in pajamas with blankets who camped out on the floor as they watched.

On Sunday, members of council were the first ones to try out the ice bumper cars, which, like the video gaming truck, had a line-up all day long. Down at the waterfront, visitors roasted marshmallows over open fires, with Dana and Dave Bartlett handing out the Graham crackers and chocolate to make the perfect Smores. Many of the visitors also tried the kick-sleds that were on display at the beach area or visited with BV firefighters who were on scene with a couple of vehicles.

The downtown area was filled with people walking around for the Pokemon Scavenger Hunt hosted by the museum which had 150 participants registered. And the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 353 was filled with people celebrating St. Patrick’s Day to the music of the Nelson Towns band. 

“People just can’t wait to do it again,” she noted happily. “I’ve had so many people thank me who don’t really know me or know my involvement.”

She said it was a great community effort between the township, Bonnechere Museum, the Bonnechere Union Public Library, the Legion, the Rotary Club, the Curling Club, and the Echo Centre.

“The March Madness name came from the library, because they were already hosting events under that banner,” she explained. “So, we thought not to confuse, and there’s been enough Sno-Fest type events, let’s piggyback with what the library is doing and make an inclusive calendar that is easier for people to read.”