Brussels Homecoming progresses, groups propose events
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
After releasing the logo, slogan and theme for the Brussels 150th Homecoming last week in The Citizen and online, the homecoming committee held its first planning meeting last week, working towards the event, set for the weekend of July 29 to Aug. 1, 2022.
The purpose of the meeting, according to Co-Chair Dan Fritz, was to connect with the village’s service groups and organizations to pass along information about the homecoming and brainstorm some ideas for hosting events as part of the festivities.
First, Fritz made it clear that the organizers of the event were committed to moving ahead, despite the uncertainty of the availability of the Brussels, Morris and Grey Community Centre. After the announcement of June 7 (of which homecoming committee members had advanced knowledge), Fritz said that the community centre could be unavailable due to ongoing renovations at the building. He assured those on the Zoom call that the committee has a plan to move forward that utilizes the centre and one that doesn’t, without having to sacrifice much at all.
Fritz told those on the call that the homecoming committee will cover the costs of marketing the event, shuttles and people movers, some insurance, the parade and grounds costs like tent rentals, fencing and more. He said that, similar to homecomings of past years, there is a suggested donation of 10 per cent of a group’s net income from an event held as part of the homecoming to the homecoming committee to help offset costs.
He said that donation suggestion won’t be strictly enforced, emphasizing that it is just a recommendation, adding that the committee is “open for business” and willing to work with any group to host an event, wanting everyone to benefit from the revenue potential associated with the event that could double or triple the population of Brussels over the course of the weekend.
Fritz added that the homecoming committee isn’t really in a position to provide financial support or physical support to groups looking to host events, but that if help is needed, the committee would do its best to ensure everyone succeeds.
He also said that merchandise will be coming soon. That merchandise, bearing the homecoming logo, will be exclusive to the committee, Fritz said, with it being its “bread and butter” in regards to raising funds.
Fritz said he was very proud to be co-chairing the event alongside Mike Thomas and that the entire committee would be doing its best to ensure the event is a celebration worthy of the 150th anniversary of the community, especially coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated security measures and lockdowns.
Fritz then opened the floor to those partaking in the meeting, asking if they’d like to propose hosting an event.
Monique Baan spoke first, proposing an open house at the Brussels Library, saying it’s possible some former residents hadn’t been back to the village since it was renovated years ago. The library is traditionally open on Saturdays, she said, but she would also be willing to staff an open house on the Sunday of the homecoming weekend.
She also suggested an element of Brussels history with the help of the Huron County Museum. While Baan said she had not yet checked with the museum, she suggested that perhaps the museum could supply some items of Brussels history to be displayed at the library over the course of the weekend.
Alex Jebson, student minister at the Brussels United Church, suggested that the church could host an informal coffee, tea and conversation space at the church. He also said the church is happy to volunteer its space, whether it be the sanctuary or the lower hall, for any other groups or displays that need a home over the course of the weekend.
Sandra Brown and other Brussels Legion representatives said the Branch would like to host a fish fry dinner for the homecoming. She said it would be best for the meal to be the same day as the parade (a date for the parade has yet to be set, though Fritz did note that at the last homecoming it was held on Saturday at noon), but that any day over the course of the weekend would be fine.
The Legion could also be open for pub nights throughout the weekend, with karaoke being a possibility for one of the nights as well, Brown said.
Perry Pearce of the Brussels Lions Club suggested that the club could host a breakfast. He also said there had been some discussion about combining the club’s annual fiddle jamboree, traditionally held in July, with a breakfast and combining them for one event during the homecoming.
Brian Deitner and Don Hastings of the Brussels station of the Huron East Fire Department also suggested hosting a breakfast, while also offering to help co-ordinate the parade.
Brett Fischer of the Blyth Brussels Minor Hockey Association said the league could look at hosting a youth ball hockey tournament and perhaps a small skills camp as part of the homecoming.
Julie Pearce of the Brussels Horticultural Society suggested the creation of a decorating competition for homes and businesses, incorporating the homecoming’s colours of black, white and blue.
She also said it would be nice to have flowers planted around the village ahead of the event, but that members would need help in finding a blue flower to be featured that summer.
Doug Bremner from the Brussels Curling Club said the club wasn’t necessarily suggesting that it host an event, but that members could provide assistance with other events at the homecoming as needed.
Mary Douma, representing Melville Presbyterian Church, said the church could assist with a meal, perhaps making appetizers, sides or dessert, but that it likely couldn’t handle a meal for 400-500 diners on its own.
She also mentioned the possibility of a joint church service being hosted by the village’s churches, though, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a meeting of local faith leaders had not yet been assembled.
Shawn Daw, representing a handful of organizations, said the Brussels Optimist Club is considering hosting a meal over the course of the homecoming weekend, in addition to perhaps a beach volleyball tournament at the Optimist Clubhouse.
As for the Brussels Tigers and Brussels Minor Ball, Daw said the teams could co-ordinate with famed local player Ty Sebastian to organize an exhibition game between his high-end team and the Brussels Tigers, in addition to a “skills and drills” session for the younger players.
Other suggestions also included a shirttail parade on Sunday evening to wrap up the festivities, the Brussels Leo Club hosting a pop-up inflatable water park for a day, a touch-the-truck event hosted by Huron Area Search and Rescue (HASAR), an antique car show, a school tent and meet-your-teacher event and a performance by a circus dance group based in Clinton.
None of the events suggested last week have been confirmed or approved by the homecoming committee. Fritz said the committee will meet again in July to consider the proposals and then reach out to the various groups to begin to firm up plans.
For more information, continue to watch The Citizen and the Brussels 150th Homecoming’s Facebook page.