by CHRIS STANFORD
Good ideas travel well, and in the case of the inaugural District of West Kelowna’s Global Music Fest, not that far.
Building on the success of the popular Music in the Park series, and taking a cue from the Global Music Fest held in Kelowna for the past four years as part of Global Citizen Week, this new event promises to be a diverse showcase of music and culture with a message of tolerance and acceptance.
“After I did Music in the Park and last year it went really well,
I was like, how can we expand?” said local musician and event producer, Ryan Donn, of Creative Okanagan. He pitched the District of West Kelowna the idea of the community holding its own one-day multicultural celebration. They bought in and became a co-title sponsor along with Reuter Real Estate.
The event will feature a musical lineup highlighted by local Celtic rockers Kinship and eclectic headliners, Vancouver’s Maria in the Shower, along with several cultural dance troupes, an anti-racism production from the Intercultural Society of the Central Okanagan (ISCO), and a First Nations fashion show from First Lady, making for a truly diverse evening of entertainment.
And the best part – it’s all free.
“Based on what we have, all the people that came on board gave the funding to make it free,” said Donn.
With many variables to contend with in setting up an inaugural event, according to Donn, key to getting the framework for the festival in place was participation of the Westbank First Nation. So, they were one of the first groups he approached. They jumped at the idea, and became a sponsor as well, pointing him towards resources in their community who would be involved.
Indeed, assistance from sponsors such as the Central Okanagan Foundation, ISCO, BC Hydro, the Westside Weekly, Shaw TV, Sun FM and Castanet means there’s no cost to come and check out what is going on.
Starting at 5 p.m. on Saturday and running until 10 p.m. at Memorial Park, located next to the Johnson Bentley Memorial Aquatic Centre, the grounds will be host to the main stage where the music and dancing will be showcased.
But there will also be plenty more to see and do. With a kid- and family-friendly theme, there will be everything from an obstacle course and the Big White bouncy castle to interactive displays from First Nations, Westbank and Kelowna Museums, and the Centre Culturel Francophone de L’Okanagan.
Add to that language arts presentations from ISCO, and tasty ethnic food from the Kekuli Cafe (bannock and more), Everest Indian and Nepalese Restaurant and Dragon’s Lair Specialty Teas.
In the spirit of breaking down intercultural boundaries, there’s also going to be a drum circle led by Quinton Scoot, and even something called Try a Turban, co-hosted by the Okanagan Sikh Temple and Kelowna Community Resources, where people can try on the South Asian-origin headwear on to see what it’s like.
“You’re taking one of the most visible elements of that culture and you’re offering it as an activity,” said Donn.
“It’s a way to embrace their culture â€¦ we’ve got the material for 175 people to try a turban on.”
Having been the driving force behind the three-day Global Music Fest in Kelowna, which happens in winter and is, for the entertainment at least, a ticketed event, Donn said there are similarities to the West Kelowna version.
But there are also differences.
Of course, besides the fact it’s being held outdoors and is free, the West Kelowna Global Music Fest is also perhaps geared a little more towards families.
But the music will still be the highlight.
Local faves Kinship, led by the high-energy Hughes brothers,
offers its own brand of Celtic-inspired tunes.
And headliners Maria in the Shower will follow with an eclectic blend of musical influences ranging from cabaret, folk and jazz to rockabilly, Latin, and everything in between, making them quite appropriate for this multicultural event.
With such a diverse day planned, Donn and the District of West Kelowna are no doubt hoping for good weather, but as important is the chance to learn a bit more about the various cultures that make up the social fabric of the Central Okanagan.
“We’re a multicultural event,” said Donn. “And I’ve never had a more collaborative event.
“Truly, we’ve taken the melting pot of Canada and put it into Memorial Park.”
What: The inaugural District of West Kelowna Global Music Fest
Where: Memorial Park, located adjacent to the Johnson Bentley Memorial Aquatic Centre in downtown Westbank
When: Saturday, Aug. 24, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Kids zone runs from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.