Bruno Cherry Sunday paints the town red

The Bruno Cherry Sunday is back.

The one-day festival taking place in the small town, roughly 35 kilometres northeast of Humboldt, celebrates the area’s favourite fruit.

16 years ago, Bruno Cherry Sunday got its start from an Ursuline Convent and girls school that was moving from Bruno in the late-90s. Trying to leave a lasting legacy for the now 100-year-old property in the centre of town, Ursuline organized a four-year lease with the University of Saskatchewan.

Different varieties of dwarf sour cherries developed at the U of S fruit program were soon planted in the eastern section of the property, creating a new identity for Bruno.

“From the cherries being planted, there were some community members that said, ‘You know what? We need to do something with these cherries. Let’s celebrate them, let’s party,’” James Riley, organizer and stage manager for Bruno Cherry Sunday, said.

Running as the three-day Bruno Cherry Festival from 2003-2010, organizers decided to bring the festival back to its roots and hold the festival on one day, just as it was in its first year.

One thing organizers didn’t imagine then is how the town would rally around the sour fruit.

In recent years, a competition for the best decorated business in town began. No one is taking the competition lightly.

“We’ve got cherries everywhere on our store,” said mayor and Lumber Supply Ltd owner Dale Glessman, the first to set up decorations this year.

“It’s a cherry war between some of the ladies on Main Street.”

There’s no business in sight that hasn’t poured hours into decorations. Cherries are drawn in chalk on sidewalks, cherry’s hang in windows, red lanterns hang from the ceiling. The local garage got in on the act by painting two tires red, and hung them in a cherry bunch arrangement on the front of the building.

While everyone is taking part in some way, the lumber store, the post office and the town office took the competition to new levels.

Lawana Saretzky is the defending champion of the decoration contest with her efforts at Bruno’s post office. This year she landed on a cherry orchard theme. There’s a straw scarecrow- which is meant to be represent a resting organizer- sitting on a bench, cherry branches placed throughout the office, flowers covering the walls and locally-sourced vinyl decals for the windows.

“If we went on fun, we should win,” Saretzky said of her enthusiasm behind this year’s decorations.

Saretzky may have been the catalyst behind after hours decorating that eventually forced other businesses in town to keep a constant watch, taking the decorating contest to another level.

“It was on,” Saretzky said of the “spies” directed at her. “It was so scary, some nights we were in here decorating and this little head would pop up in the window, and it was the town office checking up on us. We have businesses saying, “We’re ready for next year.’”

That’s just a slice of the fun being had in Bruno. Sunday’s food menu begins with a pancake breakfast, served with a cherry syrup. There is cherry fruit on elephant ears, and even cherry infused smokies to enjoy before you devour a cherry sundae.

A day full of bands, vendors, and a chance to grab a pail and walk through the u-pick orchards are other ways the people in Bruno will pass Sunday.

“To get all-out war over a little trophy and to show the enthusiasm is just awesome,” Glessman said.

“The town doubles or triples in size for one day. There’s been so many volunteers to get this going again this year. It’s been great to see the community come together and to do something like this.

Festival back a year after controversy

Last year’s festival had to be cancelled because organizers couldn’t secure any federal grant money.

St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission, the religious group that runs the festival, refused to sign a document acknowledging abortion and LGBT rights on a summer jobs application. Doing so disqualified the group from applying for three student positions for the festival.

Riley said switching the festival to a purely volunteer-organized festival is already paying off.

“The volunteer team has been able to start earlier,” Riley said. “They’ve been able to start in November, getting grants in place, getting planning in place, people in place – everything else that we need in order to make the event happen, rather than having a summer student start in June and only has two months to plan it.”

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