Organizers, artists, merchants gearing up for inaugural festival

It’s time to celebrate as the first Kootenay Festival takes over Heritage Way next Saturday.

It’s time to celebrate as the first Kootenay Festival takes over Heritage Way next Saturday.

The festival is the brainchild of Audrey Polovnikoff and Shaun Carrigg, who started talking about a regional celebration after the “Culture at the Confluence” website was launched this past November.

“We thought putting a Kootenay Festival on is what this region needs,” Polovnikoff said. “It’s a celebration of arts, culture and heritage.”

The festival takes place on the grounds near the Doukhobor Discovery Centre and will feature 50 vendors from all over the Kootenays.

Booths will include jewelry, pottery, glasswork, art, painting and drawing.

“It’s just a full board of different types of artisans,” Polovnikoff said.

There will be plenty of food vendors as well, she added, with a variety of cusines including Doukhobor, Filipino, Aboriginal, Italian and Canadian.

When the idea was hatched, committee members began approaching potential vendors and word of mouth caught on like wildfire. Vendors aren’t just from Castlegar, but Grand Forks, Creston, the Slocan Valley, Nelson and Trail as well.

“There’s a real buzz out there about this festival,” Polovnikoff said. “It’s to bring everyone together in a huge celebration.”

Aside from artisan vendors, artists will be set up throughout the grounds painting landscapes and other art.

For kids, local artist George Koochin will have a giant canvas to paint on.

There will be two entertainment stages — a main stage and another smaller stage set up near the Kootenay Gallery.

Headliners include Juno Award-nominated DJ, composer and producer Adam Shaikh, folk singer Aspen Switzer, roots/traditional jazz band Heavy Shtetl, Woodstock tribute band Razzberry Rockets Xpress and percussion band Mushana Marimba.

Other entertainment will be Turning Pointe Dance Studio, slam poetry, battle of the DJ’s, belly dancers and Punjabi dancers.

“It celebrates the culture through entertainment,” Polovnikoff said.

Having young people volunteering for the festival has been extremely helpful, she added. The USCC Youth Council and Rotary Interact group will be on hand to welcome people to the festival, provide information and perform general duties.

She also said the committee’s passion is what drove the festival forward, including the Cultural Advisory Committee and the Recreation Commission.

Polovnikoff also wanted to thank the Castlegar and District Recreation Centre for her position of Recreation and Cultural Programmer to make events like this possible.

Committee members aside from Polovnikoff and Carrigg, are Jacquie Hamilton, Peter Perepolkin, Suzanne Lehbauer, Val Field, Susan Olheiser, Sarah Corbett, Harvey Batting, Gerry Rempel, Steve Baal, Netta Zeberoff and George Koochin.

“Everybody had a role within the festival that they were in charge of and everybody had the passion and drive to make the festival successful,” Polovnikoff said.

The festival committee is hoping to make this an annual event.

“Our hope is to see it grow — longer in the day or perhaps over the weekend,” she said.

Kootenay Festival runs on July 16 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Heritage Way.

Admission is $2 and children 10 and under are free.

Parking is available at the festival but shuttles provided by Mountain Transport Institute will be leaving the Station Museum and Castlegar Complex starting at 10:30 a.m. and making regular rounds.

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