“Many of us old-timers remember the craziness of Outhouse Races. It was a great time for families to get together outdoors … the imagination can be outrageously fun,” says Shelly Durand of her 1970s participation in Lac la Hache Outhouse Races.
Taking her experiences as a teenager in Lac la Hache to heart, Shelly says she wanted to bring some of this family fun to Interlakes, becoming the person behind many community events over the years.
The inaugural Interlakes Outhouse Races she started up in 2013, a free, fun February event for families, had 200 attendants turn out and is still well-attended today, and now includes an Ice Sculpture contest.
After raising a passel of four children, home-schooling all of them, with three adopted from developing countries when she was already raising her own youngster, Shelly opened her own business in Interlakes 17 years ago that she continues to operate today.
Her store, Country Pedlar, is now located at the Interlakes Service Centre, but was initially at the Sheridan Lake complex, where she had “all sorts of things going on” back then in the parking lot, she explains.
“I think three years in a row, we did Cowboy Weekend … we’d bring in musicians, and [late, Cowboy Hall of Fame local rancher], Danny Lytton, used to come out and teach the kids how to rope.”
From bringing the Outhouse Races to her community to her organizing Summer Music On The Lakes events, Show & Shine’s and Canada Day events at Interlakes, Shelly remains involved in many events that are always geared to fun for the whole family.
As a board member right from the start, Shelly notes the formation of Interlakes Economic Association (IEA) formalized these events. While the annual races and Ice Sculpture competition are still sponsored by IEA, another member now organizes it, in order for her to help at other events, she explains.
Through her role as arts and cultural committee chair at the IEA, Shelly somehow always manages to find donors for the prizes or fundraising auctions, arrange entertainers and food, as well as the venues, vendors and volunteers to help at these events.
Shelly’s organizing has also featured family games, music, trivia, painting, bouncy farm animals, cherry spitting, rubber duck hunts, and more.
Her husband commutes to Chasm for his full-time job at the mill, and obviously, all of this works for them – Shelly and Carel Durand celebrated their 36th anniversary on May 30, 2017.
Today, their son Aaron, 33, is an accomplished opera singer based in Toronto who performs across North America and Europe, and a Free Press article back in 2012, Aaron credits his mother and father for the “solid base” to grow up in, with a lot of music around him.
The music rang out in her family from the beginning, often singing, dancing and playing instruments at home and in Festival of the Arts, his mother explains.
When Aaron was about three years old, Shelly and Carel’s son, Alamu, and daughter, Alamaz, were adopted from Ethiopia at 14 and 16 months of age, and then all within a year’s timeframe, also adopted Tyler from El Salvador, at just nine months old.
Shelly adds she is very proud of them all and happy they enjoy what they’re doing in their chosen paths. All three of Aaron’s younger siblings are now age 28, with Alamu a successful chef, Alamaz a professional photographer, and Tyler working in Kelowna while he pursues his passion as a singer-songwriter, she notes.
When the 2014 Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association (CCCTA) Tourism Summit & AGM presented IEA the Best Tourism Marketing Initiative award, then IEA president Dianne Lawson gave much credit for its 22 new events developed, marketed and delivered during that successful summer season to their committee chair, Shelly Durand.