Destination Castlegar is commissioning six matryoshka Russian stacking dolls, ranging in size from eight to 15 feet.
The matryoshka dolls are part of Destination Castlegar marketing coordinator Andrea Ryman’s plan to highlight Castlegar’s heritage sites.
“I really had to look from a different angle to see what I think that Castlegar has to offer other than the ‘do it outdoors,’ said Ryman, in regards to coming up with a marketing approach for the city. “So that was a challenge for myself because those are the things that I love about Castlegar.… When I started searching a little bit more for what Castlegar has to offer from a heritage perspective, it’s so rich with the Doukhobor Russian culture and there’s such amazing little heritage points — for instance Verigin’s tomb and of course Zuckerberg Island, just to name a couple — that offer major ‘do it outdoors’ type ideas as well as beautiful views of Castlegar.”
Ryman began brainstorming to find Castlegar’s red chair — something that would draw visitors to different historical points around the city much in the same way that Parks Canada uses red chairs to draw visitors to different points in our national parks. The matryoshka dolls were chosen to honour Castlegar’s Doukhobor and Russian heritage.
“The goal is to have them at six locations. All of them are heritage except for the smallest one which will live at the [Castlegar Visitor Centre] as a bit of a starting point for the hunt,” said Ryman.
The dolls, from largest to smallest, will be installed at the Doukhobor Discovery Centre, Verigin’s Tomb, the Brilliant Suspension Bridge, Zuckerberg Island, the CPR Station Museum, and of course, the Castlegar Visitor Centre.
“Having these beautifully made and designed, we’re enticing people to come and search out the dolls, get their photos taken with the dolls, and we’re hoping even to have that Castlegar flower logo on each of the dolls and then that would even make it more of a challenge: find the flower within. Sort of like finding Waldo.”
Discover Castlegar has already received proposals from artists and Ryman will be meeting with the Discovery Marketing Committee to review the applications this week. The committee will be looking for an artist to make the matryoshka dolls look both traditional and sporty.
“They’re going to have the same traditional face and headdress, however their apron, or activity in the centre point of the dolls, is going to reflect different types of outdoor activities, for instance kayaking, fishing, skiing, things like that,” said Ryman.
Ryman hopes that the dolls will also present an opportunity for souvenirs and that merchandise will be available around town.
Ryman only recently started her part-time position at Destination Castlegar, an initiative being funded by the two per cent Destination Marketing Tax on hotel rooms. The tax was collected for a year before Ryman as hired so that the new marketing coordinator would have the necessary funding available to get projects off the ground. It’s a one-year contract position, and in addition to the matryoshka dolls, Ryman is working on a new Castlegar tourism website and just ran a Staycation Contest.
“The real mission for the Staycation Contest was to get local Castlegarians sharing what they love about Castlegar and also giving us some really great ideas about putting some things in a brochure,” said Ryman. “So when tourists come to the city and they’re going into one of the local restaurants or hotels, and they say ‘What do we do here while we’re visiting Castlegar?’ we can have one quick little brochure that says here are all of the cool activities we have.”
Ryman hopes to launch the matryoshka dolls by the spring of 2017.