The Berwick Lions marked a first last month when they chose a female leader for the first time. Del Thibodeau-Filippone is the first woman to serve as “King Lion” for the club.
With the move, the service group is maintaining its club tradition, but making it more inclusive to suit its membership and societal shifts.
What a good lesson in leadership for the Apple Blossom Festival committee, in the wake of discussion about making its princess competition more inclusive.
While it may have been added pressure on the volunteers to engage in a discussion with a challenging topic during their busiest time of year, people were talking about the festival. A broader discussion about what the festival should be about and what events are important to its long term survival is needed. Is it about family fun? The fruit growing industry? Beer tents? Princesses?
The argument that the annual festival is a boon to the area when it comes to community spirit, tourism and the economy - and thus should not be changed at all - is a straw man. Apple Blossom has changed dramatically over the past eight decades and has survived.
The real threat to the festival is not change, but volunteer burn out and funding shortfalls. Perhaps more discussion of what the festival should or could be will bring new volunteers and sponsors to the event. What might be seen as a challenge for the festival is also an opportunity.
We hope to see more engagement with the festival tradition, but also engagement with change. As the Berwick Lions have demonstrated, treasured traditions can evolve with the times and perhaps become stronger and better for it.