Is this the beginning of the end for Lady of the Lake?
With the long-running pageant now taking a hiatus for the second year in a row, the question has to be asked. Has this tradition run its course? Is it a victim of the times? Will other long running Cowichan Lake traditions peter out as well?
In the past, eligible young women lined up for the chance to compete for the Lady of the Lake crown and other royalty spots. Everyone wanted the physical crown and the glory that came with it, of course, but it was about more than just limelight and glamour. The title afforded opportunities for travel and experience for young women, as they were expected to act as ambassadors for the Cowichan Lake community.
But for the last two years organizers have not been able to attract enough entries to even run the once fiercly fought competition. To some degree the lustre of a sparkly crown has likely waned for many of the young women. It’s just a sign of the times. Some no doubt see more benefit in pursuing advanced education, or sports, while others interested in the spotlight probably have a keener eye on becoming Instagram famous than having to fulfill the numerous obligations required of Lady of the Lake winners.
The competition could still morph into something more in keeping with the modern sensibilities teens are chasing, but it needs to decide soon. Maintaining the status quo is clearly not an option any longer. Nor do we think it’s likely that simply allowing boys to compete, or expanding the age range are really long-term fixes. A more revolutionary eye is likely needed.
But the decline of the Lady of the Lake event in recent years isn’t alone among community events and groups facing tough future decisions. People are strapped for time. They are exhausted from racing here, there and everywhere, as it seems they must do more and more in the rat race to try to make ends meet. This leaves little time for volunteering and getting involved. Last year the Kaatza Lakeside Players faced shutting down if volunteers couldn’t be found to run the group. In recent years it’s been a challenge for Lake Days to find volunteers to run that longtime festival as well.
The people who have traditionally run many of the groups and organizations in the community are getting older, and are simply burning out, and younger people are not stepping up to fill their shoes. The next few years will involve a lot of soul searching for residents.
Things will not just continue on as they always have without people stepping up to make sure they do.