The river made its presence known as it surged underneath the guests weaving their way through the simplistically elegant tables. A river underneath tables…how could that be? The occasion was a fundraising dinner held by the Vermilion Trails Society (VTS) just three days shy of Summer Solstice. The venue was the one year old Bridge of Dreams built by the same structural engineering firm (StructureCraft) that designed and built the Richmond Oval for the 2010 Olympics. Its job was to re-join the Kettle Valley Rail Trail together again after years without anything except the concrete pillars of what once was. The steel train bridge was gone, but in its place now stands a masterpiece.
Guests eased onto the Bridge of Dreams dressed to the nines. Tantalizing smells wafted through the air from the lamb that was slowly cooked over a rotisserie bbq by Charles Weber. This was an occasion to remember. For many, a dinner on the pedestrian bridge that stretched 215’ across an expanse of the Tulameen River was an experience they had been anticipating for weeks. At the one end, Thomasina and her staff from Thomasina’s Tea Room stood ready and waiting for the chairs to fill. In the centre, the talented harpist Ingrid Schellenberg was wrapping the attendees in the warmth of her music. Along the length of the bridge, elegance and nature united into an experience unlike any other.
A Sandy Spring original rendering of the vision for Two Rivers Park and the public art piece the fundraiser was all about, greeted guests in its place of honour just under the bridge’s entrance. Mark and Bettina Wong original candle holders glimmered with soft romantic light. Bits of nature scattered the tables in simplistic taste thanks to VTS director Faye Davidson’s discerning eye. White table cloths set the backdrop for tables named Tulameen, Similkameen, Princeton Tunnel and Ochre Bluffs (Station names, along the trail) giving the guests a touch of the history of a trail first etched out of the rugged B.C. landscape for trains. The setting was breathtaking and glorious.
Jerome and Thomasina who catered the event brought with them a support staff that went above and beyond hustling about to deliver course after course of paradise on a plate. Cool weather had the competent catering staff, the ready and able VTS members, and the polite volunteers from the Princeton Highland Dance group hustling about to try and get
the food to the table before the heat was gone.
“The weather was a challenge,” said VTS Treasurer Lisa Carleton. “We contemplated closing in the open sides of the bridge to try to keep the warm air in—and then, decided that we just needed to go with whatever the weather man threw at us.”
VTS Secretary, Dierra Maynard, agreed. “The guests used their common sense and in the true sport of an outdoor event in Canada, they put on ‘warm’ semiformal wear. It all worked out.”
From start to finish, the three hour eating extravaganza was filled with tastes to please and the wonderful company of friends. The atmosphere shouted “enjoy.” Silent auction items lured guests over to bid on donations from some incredible local artists and the whole event embraced each diner with a welcome.
“Ingrid could make playing in a barn seem classy,” said VTS president Kim Maynard with a smile. “We were so happy to have her here. She really set the tone for the event and Thomasina and her crew were just wonderful. The evening went extremely well for our first kick at the can and we can’t wait to bring it back next year, bigger and better than ever. We really hope this dinner will become a highly anticipated event for our town and we hope that this fundraising dinner will be the beginning of a better green space for our community as we work together with Rotary and the Town of Princeton to ensure Two Rivers Park gets completed.”
This event could not have gone so smoothly without the help from the following community members: Princeton Rotary Club, with special thanks to Colleen Stevens who was a tremendous help, Thomasina, Jerome and crew who gave us a meal to remember and the Princeton Highland Dancers who served the dinner guests with style and grace. The artists who gave us a piece of their talented work; Robin Lowe, Tim Hall, Bob Cormack, Sandy Spring, Mark Wong and Ed Staples. Bill Spring framed the original rendering of the public art piece envisioned for Two Rivers Park, ensured the availability of prints for fundraising efforts and recruited many friends to dine. Mark Riegling of First Choice Septic Services was wonderful with the timely delivery of and donation of the portable washrooms. Jim Short, Ken Davidson and Mike Talarico performed security duties as well as the laborious tasks of hauling tables and chairs to and from the event. The Royal Canadian Legion and the Princeton Arts Council gave amazing support. Hi Vis Flagging, Princeton Rotary and Princeton Weyerhaeuser loaned various equipment. Ed Muckle from the Image Emporium printed whatever and whenever required, all with good-nature. Charles Weber expertly barbecued the lamb—and spent the day doing so. Donators to the silent auction; The Princeton Golf Club, Lakeside Resort, Fraser Valley River Rafting, Dallas Earle and Faye and Ken Davidson. VTS-Town of Princeton Liaison, Councillor Jason Earle added a personal touch to the event as emcee by visiting each one of the dinner guests at their table to welcome and outline the evening.
The Vermilion Trails Society’s Dinner on the Bridge committee extends a huge thank you to all the aforementioned, for their assistance and or donations and especially for their support.
A fundraising event like this really involves many and it is because of all these good people—this event hit a home run.