Fanshawe College’s 50th anniversary show attracts more than 6,600 alumni, staff and students

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Fanshawe College really painted the town red.

The crimson celebration of all things Fanshawe filled Budweiser Gardens inside and out Saturday night – the marquee event for the college’s fiftieth anniversary.

In the shadow of the college’s burgeoning downtown London campus, more than 6,600 former Falcons, current staff, students and retirees came out for Fanshawe: Live in Concert, the largest event in the school’s five decade history.

Alumnus Robert Diebert remembers almost all of it.

The 71-year-old graduated in 1970 then came back again to study photography in 1977. He’s enjoyed watching Fanshawe College grow and thrive.

“I’ve never really left the school,” he said.

“I love the school. It’s been my life for a long time.”

The college has a family connection for Perry Kloibhofer, proud member of the class of ’82. His wife now works at Fanshawe.

“It’s nice to see that it’s still growing and that it’s still here and doing well,” he said.

Three Canadian acts are taking the stage at the monumental celebration; Juno award winning group Hedley, Grammy-nominated band the Barenaked Ladies and the Toronto-based electro pop group Brave Shores.

As a long line formed before the big acts indoors, six bands from the college’s music industry arts program warmed up the crowd with performances outside.

But if live shows aren’t music to your ears, the college’s latest creation is sure to please.

Fanshawe’s school of transportation technology showed off its fully-loaded, and fully-restored, 1967 Ford Falcon – a real feather in the cap of the students who helped build it.

The school took delivery of the vintage ride last October from an owner in Arizona. It had a dingy white paint job and needed lots of work, said transportation technology instructor Don Bester.

“It had a good body on it,” he said.

“We took it, we stripped it all. We basically took it and had it sandblasted.”

From custom seats to a new engine, glossy new paint and a powerful sounds system, the car – built at the former St. Thomas Ford assembly plant – took students more than 2,000 hours to restore.

Though the 50th anniversary is a chance for the school to reflect on its past, Fanshawe is looking ahead to the future too.

This year, the college attracted its largest-ever first year class. The storied school is also moving quickly to complete its $66.2 million downtown redevelopment of the old Kingsmill’s department store on Dundas Street.

The six-storey building will be the home of Fanshawe’s information technology and culinary, tourism and hospitality programs beginning September 2018.

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