Despite the ongoing high river levels, Brandon is still finding time to spruce up for a weekend of garden and heritage tours while judged from Communities in Bloom are in town.
A total of 15 heritage buildings are part of Brandon’s "Doors Open" tours this year, the 13th annual. These self-guided tours of historical buildings are free and are generally open from 1–5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, although some buildings may have different hours.
"Doors Open is a unique opportunity to discover some of Brandon’s beautiful historic homes and buildings that people otherwise might not have a chance to see," says tour organizer Emily Cuggy. "It’s one thing to read about history in a book, but there is nothing like being able to go inside and actually explore it for yourself. These are buildings that we pass by every day without realizing how much history they hold, and how much we can learn from them."
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The full list of tour locations and where to pick up your free tour passport can be found at http://www.heritagebrandon.ca/heritage/doors-open-2014.
A full list of residential gardens that are open for self-guided tours can be found here: http://www.brandoninbloom.ca/images/pdfs/OpenGardenTour_2014.pdf.
There's also a free, guided walking tour of the city’s north end being offered in conjunction with the Doors Open event. The tours, led by local history buff David McConkey, leave from St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church at 927 Assiniboine Ave., at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. each day. They'll lead through an area once referred to as a Brandon ghetto, for its concentration of eastern European immigrants in early Brandon history.
If building and neighbourhood tours aren't enough, the weekend will see two days of open garden tours as well, organized by the city’s Brandon in Bloom program. Tour times run from 4–8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, with an additional 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday only.
Three of the garden tour locations will also host two judges from the national Communities in Bloom program on Saturday evening. Judges Gaétan Deschênes and Stephen King will visit Brandon over the weekend and evaluate the city based on criteria such as floral displays, landscapes, turf, urban forestry, community involvement, heritage, conservation, environmental awareness and tidiness.
"With the open garden tours running this weekend, Brandon will be simply beautiful," says Brandon in Bloom co-ordinator Stacey Patterson. "When national Communities in Bloom judges come to town, it really becomes a community effort to show them the beauty that exists across every inch of our City."
The general public is invited to a community welcome coffee-and-cake event for the two judges on Saturday evening, from 6:30–7:30 p.m. at the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum at the airport. However, RSVPs are appreciated by calling 204- 729- 2172 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
During their visit, the judges will also be given a guided walking tour of the downtown, and also visit a number of city facilities and public spaces, including the Eastview Landfill, Brandon’s Community Sportsplex, Errol Black Park and the newly-opened Rideau Park Recreational Hub.
Brandon will then have to wait until the fall to find out if it is a winner. This year’s top Communities in Bloom honours will be handed out Sept. 17–20 in Charlottetown, PEI.