How a Picnic Table Creates Community

Last weekend was airdrieFEST 2016, an annual community event that brings together local non-profit groups, small businesses, musicians and entertainers for a few hours outside of Airdrie City Hall. This year’s event was bigger than ever, with about 52 non-profits and 61 businesses, including 8 food trucks.  Throngs of people, mostly families, came out to enjoy the sun and learn more about what living in Airdrie has to offer.  For newcomers to our city, there is no better way or place to learn so much in such a short period of time.

Featured this year was a collection of 9 picnic tables that were placed near the performance area, where families could sit comfortably with each other, eat, talk and enjoy the free entertainment on the stage.

These 9 tables, however, are not just tables, they are local works of art.  Each table has been painted by a local artist to express a theme or make a statement.

Veronica Funk


Brenna Miller


Melissa Bruglemans


Patricia Pile


Ron Roffel


Stefy Smith & Bryan Young


Koos de Jongh & Nicole Musser


Zachary Abbott


Robyn Cooper


Each artist invested 35-40 hours on average in designing, sanding, priming, painting and varnishing their table.  All of them endured the challenge of painting outdoors during one of Airdrie’s wettest and windiest summers on record.  This was not a project for the faint of heart!

The project has been the talk of the town, with Creative Airdrie requesting that the tables be moved and displayed at the ARTember Arts Festival from September 29th to October 1st.  Media inquiries have been coming in, including last week’s call from 660 News in Calgary.

So, what does a picnic table have to do with building community?

The City of Airdrie’s Community Development group sees the picnic tables as an important asset in the city’s Great Spaces Plan, which was updated in March, 2016.

“By 2026, Airdrie’s Open Space System will be a model of environmental stewardship and a highly valued community asset.
The City will protect its open space in best practice
management systems. Strong forward planning over the
coming years will provide Airdrie with a comprehensive,
contiguous and innovative parks, open space and trail
system. Residents will play and commute to work through a
network of trails, pathways and streetscapes while stopping
to enjoy the many park space amenities available. Airdrie
will also play host to major regional special events, and will
be known as a City of Great Places.

Neighbourhood parks, gardens and civic places can accommodate gatherings and ceremonial functions, typically located adjacent to civic buildings and libraries. These spaces provide areas for sitting, eating lunch, and passive enjoyment; they are appropriate for ornamental planting, hard surfaced areas, seating, and a
higher degree of maintenance. Provision of a variety of these spaces will increase the attractiveness of residential neighbourhoods, the downtown and commercial areas, and improve the vibrancy and economic potential.”

As part of this plan, the City will distribute and place each of the picnic tables in strategic locations in our community providing a place for residents and their families to stop, enjoy their surroundings and meet their neighbours.

Volunteer Airdrie is proud to be part of this community building initiative.  It truly was a collaborative partnership starting with Mattamy Homes building and delivering the tables, Airdrie Paint & Decor, the City of Airdrie Community Development and Volunteer Airdrie sponsoring the cost of the paints, the City of Airdrie’s Parks group & Davis Chev picking up & delivering the tables to City Hall and ending with the efforts and talents of nine of Airdrie’s finest artists.

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