The Canadian Snowbird Association (CSA) is a 100,000 member national not-for-profit advocacy organization. It is dedicated to actively defending and improving the rights and privileges of Canadian travellers.
Each winter CSA executives travel to popular locations where Canadian Snowbirds escape the harsh winters of their home provinces, to connect with them, and to bring them up-to-date with what CSA has accomplished and its on-going projects. The month of February, in Arizona, has been declared Canada Month. What better time to present a Snowbird Extravaganza, which not only provides CSA information, but free entertainment, and vendor displays.
On Monday we made the short trip to the Mesa Convention Centre to attend this, our first, Extravaganza.
We were a little later getting to the Centre than we’d planned, and the parking lots were already filling up. When we arrived inside it was apparent that if we wanted to get a seat in the designated “theatre” area we needed to grab them quickly. We discovered, however, that most of the chairs were occupied with the plastic welcome bags given out at the door. The seats were being saved by people who wanted to insure they had a seat, but still wander around the vendor booths while waiting for the show to begin. We managed to snag two chairs in the very back corner, up against the curtain that acted as a partition. While many people had to stand in the outside aisles, leaning against the walls, most of the “saved” seats remained empty until the last few minutes before the show started.
After the Welcome and a briefing from the Canadian Snowbird Association, the entertainment began with the kilted, guitar playing tenor from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Tom Leadbeater. He kept us clapping, smiling and singing along to the many old familiar songs of the region. He was followed by Irish-born comedian, Sean Emery, who travels across the US, spreading laughter with his jokes, sarcasm and oddball juggling stunts. Unfortunately, from where we sat it was difficult to see some of the stunts, even on the screen that was provided. The final performer of the morning was multi-award winning Country Music Artist, Michelle Wright. Sadly, the volume of chatter coming from behind us drowned out her beautiful voice. We decided to find our way to the food venue before the rush. Outside the theatre we could hear her much better.
On the outdoor patio we enjoyed the warm sun, and ate our purchased sandwiches before the long lines began to form. We didn’t linger to listen again to Tom Leadbeater, who was setting up on the outdoor stage. We let some others have our seats.
Back inside we checked out the vendors of vacation spots, miracle pain treatments, Las Vegas entertainment and Casinos. We picked up information brochures from CSA and the Canadian Consulate before heading back into the theatre in search of seats for the afternoon show. Again, the plastic bags occupied the majority of seats that were otherwise empty, but we found two empty ones much closer to the stage than before. While we sat waiting, a ruckus started in the row behind us. It seemed that a couple had come back from lunch and expected to get the same seats they’d occupied all morning, but another couple, not seeing any indication that the seats were saved, had taken them over. An argument ensued. The new occupants refused to leave, and the other fellow left in disgust after throwing out the comment, “Damn Canadians!” I looked around in shock. Why on earth was this man, with an obvious dislike for Canadians, attending a show that was provided and sponsored entirely by Canadians, with the majority of the entertainers hailing from Canada and the majority of attendees as well? The only explanation I could think of was that it was all free, and anyone was welcome.
The afternoon entertainment began with two senior singer/guitar players who claimed to be “the first openly grey performers to appear on stage.” By the time Bowser and Blue left the stage forty-five minutes later, my jaws ached from so much laughter. Their political comments, presented through musical parodies, were brilliantly hilarious. But the laughter didn’t end there.
Next on the stage was Jimmy Flynn, dressed in his plaid flannel shirt, overalls, rubber boots and a bright yellow Newfoundland fisherman hat. He kept us in stitches for another half hour with his “Newfie” style stories about family and friends and life in a fishing village in Eastern Canada.
The show ended with the beautiful tenor voice of a long-time favourite of many Canadians, John McDermott.
If laughter and music are the best medicines, we should be good for at least the rest of the season!