These 39 Days have Longevity

Longevity John Falkner is determined to make Duncan
Longevity John Falkner is determined to make Duncan's 39 Days of July happen despite the fact he just got out of the hospital after suffering a stroke.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland/file

You can’t keep a good man down.

And as Martha Stewart would say, that’s a good thing, especially for those who love the Duncan-Cowichan Festival Society’s 39 days of July, which starts June 27.

June 10 was the day that a good man — festival and event promoter and community fixture Longevity John Falkner’s body let him down.

He suffered a stroke. But he’s not about to let a little thing like that stop him from putting on, as Ed Sullivan used to say, a really good show.

The show must go on. And it will. According to Falkner, that’s a promise.

“It will take more than a stroke to keep me down,” he said.

As word spread and locals fretted about whether the festival they love would be cancelled, helpful hands magically appeared. Falkner said thanks to those unsung heroes and volunteers, the show will be as good as in year’s past.

The fact is he’s adding, not subtracting things from the festival’s agenda. Mexican dance bands to name a few.

“Enough people have stepped forward to get this done. For all those who have stepped forward, I say ‘thank you,’” the event promoter said. “And for those who haven’t, I’ll catch up with you later.”

Falkner said there are too many people to thank, to mention them all here. A “soon-to-be-good friend,” from Harrison Hot Springs who has run festivals before and his own club has stepped up in a big way. But there’s only so much he can do.

“He doesn’t know how to run the festival, I’m the only one who does,” he said. “It’s my mind, my show.”

According to Falkner, he left the hospital June 19 with his doctor’s blessing, even if it was a couple of weeks before people with similar symptoms normally do.

“They said I appeared to be doing quite well and that I could do my physio at home,” he said. “My girlfriend, Georgina Foster, is taking good care of me. She’s keeping my spirits up.”

Coaches and self-help gurus would undoubtedly be interested in bottling whatever Falkner is using, to keep him going on, despite his stroke.

“Offering live music every day of my life keeps me going. The reports over the years about the festival, everyone loves it, with those reports I can’t not go on.”

Motivated by people’s encouragement, he’s working hard to earn a clean bill of health.

“People have been great, they’ve told me to keep working at it, it’s a process of reconnecting the dots,” he said. “I’m having fun discovering how to do that.”

That kind of prodding, something that he says only a small town can do, is what makes him passionate about Duncan and small town living. It’s why he loves living here too.

Falkner’s passion, and determination, despite what could be daunting odds are part of what he calls a five-year plan to entrench 39 days.

“I’m getting rid of Drunken Duncan,” he said, while referring to Duncan’s former reputation.

His new motto?

“A rather fun place to be.”

Which is what most people would think if they see a long-haired, six-foot five-inch man riding along down the street on his two-wheel scooter.

“I’m working on my balance, that’s how people will know I’m doing well; if they see me on the street on my scooter.

Thirty-nine Days of Summer brackets the Duncan-Cowichan Summer Festival with a steady stream of free musical entertainment entertainment downtown runs from June 27 to August 4. For details, check out the summer festival's Facebook page.

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