By Sue Tiffin
As fall rolls around, Sharon Rowden starts organizing, and soon the downtown business area of Haliburton is decorated with seasonal spirit in the form of 100 hay bales, 70 pumpkins and about 60 pots of chrysanthemums.
Rowden, a member of the BIA and owner of Touch of Class Day Spa and Hair Salon, has volunteered for the past few years to decorate the downtown core on behalf of the BIA. The work was once coordinated by Debra Dart and a group of volunteers.
“It’s just something I took on and I’ve been doing it ever since, because I like to decorate,” said Rowden. “I really like to do it, it makes town look nice. People love it, and that’s good for me.”
Rowden noted the BIA funds the project and Brad Park at Foodland is instrumental in ordering supplies in each fall, usually in time for Colourfest, though that event was cancelled this year. Decorations are stored in the BMO basement, and this year the mums waited on Rowden’s lawn before they could be moved into place downtown.
“At the beginning of September, Brad orders in what I need, then [with] my wonderful husband and family, I drag them into town with trucks and trailers,” said Rowden, laughing. “We head out and basically I get them to help me put all the hay bales out because they’re big and awkward and heavy. Then I go out to add the mums and decorations.”
Her family is ready for the task at hand.
“They know every year that when I say, OK, don’t make plans on this date because we have to do hay bales and pumpkins, they know exactly what I’m talking about.”
Sometimes Rowden has assistance in decorating, and other times she does it herself, a project that takes up to 12 hours.
“Usually it probably takes us about an hour to get the hay bales in place. I’ve got a crew, so I say, you go here with this many, you go here,” said Rowden. “The mums, the same. The decorating, it probably takes me a good 10 to 12 hours. I was there for four hours on Monday, I worked until about 9 o’clock on Monday night. I was using the light on my phone trying to see what I was doing and then I said, OK, this is crazy, time to go home.”
Rowden is careful to get the finishing touches just so, and said she doesn’t usually do touch-ups once the displays are in place, although sometimes she might stop to fix something she sees out of place.
“When I’m there doing it and people are walking by and they stop to have conversations and ask me about it, and then there’s the compliments,” said Rowden of the fun of decorating. “An elderly couple walked by me Monday night, said I was doing a great job and that it looked nice – it just makes you feel good.”
She noted that besides being appreciated by downtown visitors and businesses, the displays are usually well-respected, with minimal damage each year.
“My biggest vandals are the deer,” she laughed. “They love to eat the pumpkins. The deer are my only true vandals, but we’ll let them have it.”
It’s been the past decade that Rowden has taken a shining to decorating, since she moved into an older house that she worked to beautify. She likes to refurbish, collect antiques, and has a craft room and a packed garage that she said her husband often eyes, hoping he might clean it out.
Some of her crafts have made their way into Touch of Class, as has a line of mineral paint and supplies she sells to share her passion with crafty clients.
At home, she has her fall displays done already.
“Christmas, I go all out,” she laughed.
Rowden said last week that decorating throughout town was only halfway done, but that she hoped to finish displays depending on the weather this past weekend, in time for what she hoped would be a busy Thanksgiving weekend.
“It’s just something to help our town look nice, thanking our BIA for supplying everything to make our town look awesome,” she said. “I love it, it just, it makes town, it makes people smile, and that makes me happy. I’m glad people enjoy it.”