Diamond Jenness Secondary School’s Christmas celebrations Dec. 20 – commonly referred to as Goatfest – raked in more money to support development efforts in the Third World this year than ever.
Students raised $1,124 this year, the most ever recorded by the popular community event. Although in the past the school has funded the purchase of a goat (hence the name) for a family or village in a Third World country, this year, the students and staff organizing the fundraiser decided to go another direction.
“Goats eat everything,” said Anna Cunningham, a member of staff at DJSS who helped organize the event. “That’s a good thing sometimes, but can also be bad. We decided to go with bee hives this year.”
Cunningham added that the decision had been made after consulting the executive director of the Territorial Farmers’ Association, Andrew Cassidy, who had indicated the town might be seeing its own apiary – or bee yard – in the near future.
“It would be good to have that local/international connection,” said Cunningham.
Students raised money by auctioning off all kinds of items, including gingerbread houses, and this year for the first time, stockings full of loot put together by each homeroom class. Cunningham said each stocking had a theme, such as “high roller” filled with movies and gadgets, or “tape” which boasted pretty much anything that came on a roll, including fruit roll-ups.
“The auctions are a lot of fun,” she said. “They can become really a communal event, when there are only two bidders left and the rest of the audience starts taking sides and shoving cash into people’s pockets so they can up their bid.”
Along with auctions, students also provided the entertainment for the day, consisting of a variety of performances culminating in a spoof of The Lord of the Rings movies played out on stage, aptly named “Bored of the Rings.”
“It was just bigger and better than it has been in other years,” said Cunningham, likening the process to that of party planning in general. “Whenever you organize any celebration, sometimes it goes great and everyone gets along and has fun, and sometimes no one says anything and it’s done in two hours. This one happened to be great and we’re happy it went well.”
This was also the first year Goatfest garnered a corporate donation – in this case $200 from MSS Ltd. after someone there heard about the fundraiser from a student.
DJSS’s student council was highly involved in the planning and execution of Goatfest, as well as deciding where the money raised would go afterwards. Kyla Milne said that she had seen Goatfest drop in popularity in previous years, but has also witnessed its rise back to the forefront as a community holiday event.
“It’s more lively now than it used to be,” she told The Hub. “It seems like every year it just gets bigger and more interesting.”
Although Goatfest is based in the school, Cunningham said it’s a real community event.
“We get old students coming back for the day and current students bring their families,” she said. “Goatfest is really for everyone.”