Despite only securing a few “felons,” the Fort Frances Voyageurs Lions Club’s annual “Jail or Bail” still is going ahead.
Set for this Saturday from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. under the big tent at the Sorting Gap Marina, the event date was changed this year to be held in conjunction with the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.
It took place during the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce’s business expo last May after being held at Canadian Tire its first two years.
The club had hoped the bass tournament would be a great venue for the event, but member Bill Michl admitted they may have been wrong.
“It’s terrible,” he confessed. “We can’t seem to get any convicts.
“We only have three confirmed.”
The Lions had hoped that instead of soliciting “convicts” from local businesses and groups, the public would suggest people to be “arrested.”
Michl said the club has forms which people were able to pick up when they had a “convict” in mind.
They were asked to fill them out with the required information and return the form to the Lions, who then would go to “subpoena” the “convicts” to show up for the event.
But the idea didn’t exactly go as planned and the club ended up going around to ask individuals to participate.
While they had about five or six initially, a few of those later dropped out.
“We got a bunch of maybes,” Michl said, noting every time he checked back with them, he didn’t get a straight answer.
“So I can’t count on them.”
But even with the small numbers, Michl said the club still will go ahead with the event.
“We’re going to hope there’s a crowd we can pick on come the day of,” he remarked.
“We’ll just have a fun day and try to grab people out of the crowd.
“We’ll just go with it and take our losses,” Michl added.
“Hopefully the few that did confirm will cover the expenses that we’ve had so far and we’ll chalk it down to a learning experience.”
Michl said the few confirmed “convicts” were given a pledge sheet so they could raise their “bail” ahead of time.
Then on Saturday, they’ll come to the tent with their money.
“We make up charges and the ‘judge’ reads them out,” he explained, noting the club has Steve Latimer lined up once again to play the judge.
“If they are not in a hurry, we’ll ask them to sit in the cell and try to raise more money,” Michl added.
“If they are in a hurry, they just drop off the money and go.
“And then if we have a crowd, we’ll ask if anyone wants to pay to keep them in longer, just to keep it going,” he continued.
“We’re just hoping there’s enough people in the crowd that we can send them in for half-an-hour and if they can raise $50, $100, it will make for a good day.”
He said the club’s goal is to raise about $5,000, which it hit the first two years.
And while they close last year, the Lions didn’t quite reach the target.
“We tried to go to business owners and their staff because if you go to a business that has a fairly big staff and they all chip in, the bail is easy to raise,” Michl said.
“It just seems that everybody is going to be away that day,” he noted. “It’s a bad time of year.
“We’re going to have to go back to early spring.”
With the business expo held after the fishing season opened, Michl conceded they didn’t do as well there as the club thought it might.
But seeing as the business expo was held earlier this year (in April), the Lions might give the expo another shot next year.
Currently, the club’s other fundraisers include the “Polar Plunge” on Jan. 1 and the “Drive-Thru Breakfast” at Tim Hortons in September.
“But we’re thinking about giving up the ‘Drive-Thru Breakfast’ just because of the amount of legwork that goes into it and the amount we make from it,” Michl lamented.
“We have to come up with an [fundraising] idea,” he noted.
“Our club is getting older, and we just don’t have the workers to go and do the work anymore.”
But Michl remains hopeful “Jail or Bail” still will turn out all right.
“It might pan out okay,” he said. “We might get 50 people to throw in the day of and if they all raise a couple bucks, we’ll be okay.”
He also reminded people that it’s not too late to get involved in the “Jail or Bail.”
“We’ll take ‘convicts’ that day,” he stressed.
“We won’t make them raise the $200 but if they want to participate, whatever they raise, we’ll take.”
He added the local club also is in need of new members.
“It’s for anyone aged 18 and up,” Michl said. “Come and see what it’s all about.”
For for info, call Michl at 276-1334.