Rachelle Collette stands in Old Town at McLean Mill, where “Jeepers Creepers” will take place this weekend.                                 ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Rachelle Collette stands in Old Town at McLean Mill, where “Jeepers Creepers” will take place this weekend. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

LIFE IN THE VALLEY: Coffee With Rachelle Collette

Businesswoman happy to be pressed into event planning service

With McLean Mill Historic Park taking on a new board of directors this year, the park has undergone a transformation to include more events, private bookings and an expanded season.

A key player behind the mill’s new identity is Pressed Event Services’ Rachelle Collette.

Collette, with a background in hospitality management, launched her business in May of this year as a way of hosting wine tasting. She first hosted a wine club at Char’s Landing. She then branched out to event planning.

“I kept it quite vague and quite open,” said Collette. “I focused primarily on the mill in the summer.”

Pressed Event Services offers weddings, wine services and corporate and event planning. The company specializes in specific and detail-oriented event services.

“I’m going after moderate to high-end events on the west coast of Vancouver Island,” said Collette. “There’s not a whole lot available here in Port Alberni. It’s a huge tourist destination, especially in the summertime.”

For Collette, it’s about location, but it’s also about partnership.

“I see myself partnering with like-minded businesses and professionals to create a supportive community,” she said. “My primary goal is to bring everybody together.”

She spent most of the summer planning events at McLean Mill Historic Park, from various weddings, to partnering with Five Acre Productions to put on the Five Acre Shaker, to a slime-making kids’ end-of-summer party.

Currently, Collette is working on transforming the mill site’s Old Town into a haunted park for Halloween weekend. There will be two haunted houses, for two levels of risk takers, and a spooky train ride. Guests will be able to enjoy bonfires, s’mores kits, coffee and hot chocolate and scary stories.

“There definitely will be jumpy things in it,” Collette joked.

In general, though, “Jeepers Creepers at McLean Mill” will be a family-friendly event, with the “jumps” geared towards ages 5-12, so it’s safe to bring your little ones.

Collette said “Jeepers Creepers” is her favourite of the events, so far.

“I try to make every one I’m working on my favourite,” she laughed.

Collette has stepped away from the McLean Mill as the park’s season draws to a close, but she will still be taking on events and projects around Port Alberni.

“It’s such an amazing national historic site,” she said.

She believes guests are drawn to the area because of its history, but also because there is something at the site to attract everyone, whether it’s the old houses, the trains and machinery, the beautiful forests or the Steam Pot Cafe.

“Some of the people visiting have family members that worked on the site,” she said. “There’s something for everybody.”