The new year is already off to a fast start as we begin to wrap up the month of January. If the month of January has any indication to how the Matthews’ 2020 year will go, I would say we are in for a year full of lively events and brand new partnerships.
It felt as though this entire month of January was riddled with collaboration, successful residencies with the public, and just this continuation of having an entire staff willing to try unique ideas and go places we have yet to venture. The two events that really stuck out to me, from a Community Engagement perspective, were our residencies and concert with Native American hip-hop artist, Supaman, and our collaborative week-long Chinook Days event.
Christian Takes Gun Parrish, or better known by his stage name, Supaman, graced our community with his presence to really kick off this month in an emotionally powerful way. A member of the Apsaalooke Nation, Supaman is a contemporary hip-hop artist who combines the traditions of his culture fused with new, innovative music. But it is what Supaman was doing off the stage that has stuck with me, even as I write this blog.
As we took Supaman out to do his three residencies at Creekside Elementary, Black Hills State University, and Canyon Hills Center, it became evident that having conversations and opening up “difficult” talking points is where Supaman really thrived. Growing up in challenging homes, staying abstinent from alcohol and drugs, anti-bullying, and appreciating cultural history and significance were among the conversation points that Supaman used during his residencies. Between our three residency locations, Christian was able to have these open conversations with a broad spectrum of ages that ranged from 12 to 70 years old. But my favorite talking point that Supaman highlighted was the notion that you really can do anything if you work hard enough and believe in yourself. For many of the students, this may have been their first time hearing that kind of encouragement. And that is what makes our residency program so special, and why it is one of my favorite aspects of this job. Getting to facilitate these types of conversations is exactly what we are striving to do. Having these conversations and opening our minds to positive change is how the progress starts.
Supaman also helped kick off an inaugural event that brought forth dozens of Spearfish businesses, clubs and organizations. Chinook Days was a week long celebration of the fact that Spearfish holds the world record for the fastest temperature change in the world. On January 22nd, 1943 at 7:30am the temperature was -2 degrees Fahrenheit. In a matter of two minutes the temperature rapidly increased by 49 degrees Fahrenheit in just two minutes. To this day that is still the fastest temperature change in the entire world. So why not throw a party to celebrate this right?
This event was named after the famous wind that creates these erratic temperature changes, the chinook wind of the Rockies. But ironically enough, it is also the name of a beer hop that all of our local breweries use for their craft beers and this is where the idea sprouted from. Our committee wanted to create an atmosphere that really speaks to the culture of Spearfish. Adventure seekers getting a chance to participate in winter sport events, local history, food, music, and, of course, art which is where we came in to help. The Matthews Opera House took this opportunity to put together four great events. We created snow sculptures outside of our gallery, challenged our local artists to create Chinook themed pieces of art for an art show, debuted some of the locally made beers during our Supaman concert, and wrapped up the events with a winter-based art film that follows Andy Goldsworthy, an artist who uses his outside landscapes to create his art.
Our team consisted of John and Patrick Williams, the Home Brew Club, Killians, The Grooming Alliance of Spearfish, the BH Nordic Club, Spread the Tunes, Visit Spearfish and The Matthews Opera House along with many other pieces that were added to the puzzle as we continued to our final event that brought us all together. And it was at this final event, the Chinook Festival and Winter Games, where all the hard work really paid off. Being in the packed park pavilion seeing dozens of people enjoying their Saturday festivities was such a pivotal moment.
It was at this final event where the overarching theme of this event became very clear to me. A moment that I will never forget. What made this event so special, was the fact that this event has never taken place before, and was an idea that just started out as a conversation. It all began with John and Patrick Williams approaching me with this idea and I think that’s why I love this event. Not one of the organizations involved had any obligation to do this event. We did not have any sort of budget, any direction, or any idea of what the potential of the idea was capable of. But what we did have was a dream and care for this community. I was able to learn from some of the great event planners and leaders of Spearfish as we all came together to collaborate on ideas. The experience was so rich just getting to meet all of these new faces and groups seeing how dedicated they are. Yet we all had the same goal: continuing to make Spearfish such an amazing home.
And I think that is the story I really wanted to tell after completing this project. It is just hard for me to imagine very many communities that would all come together to put forth an event like Chinook Days, and at the same time have that many actually participate in the events. But in a place like Spearfish, it’s truly what we are all about.