The Lytton River Festival is coming up soon, and this year features a family comedy show with one of Canada’s funniest comedians, music, outdoor activities including kayaking and wall-climbing, food, an artisans’ market, entertainment, and more, including the always popular, made in Lytton chicken poop bingo.
In all, the three-day, free, family-friendly street festival over the Labour Day weekend will feature more than 30 acts and events. It is a celebration of the people and cultures of the Thompson and Fraser Rivers, and festival secretary and event coordinator Nonie McCann says that they have a strong mix of all Lytton cultures represented at the event, with Lytton First Nation as a partner.
“From the Shmameet Youth Drum Circle opening the festival each day, to Lil’wat Indigenous musicians, to street dancing with mainstream bands and even chicken poop bingo, we have something for everyone at the festival, and everyone is welcome,” she notes.
Canadian comedian Don Burnstick, a member of the Alexander First Nation reserve located near Edmonton, has a sharp sense of humour, which was honed by living on the streets of Edmonton before becoming sober and moving into comedy.
“What I do is, I basically hold the mirror up on stage about our lives, all the funny things we have endured in our lives,” Burnstick said in a recent interview with the CBC. “I talk about those things.”
Other First Nations taking place throughout the festival include youth hand-drumming, First Nations artists’ displays and workshops, performances by the Spiritual Warriors, an interactive drum workshop with Soaring Spirit, local favourites Ritchie and the Fendermen, and more. Festival-goers can also try making traditional crafts under the instruction of local First Nations knowledge keepers.
For children there is face painting, a chance to make dream catchers, beading, painting, storytelling, rock-wall climbing, a bouncy slide, Mr. Bubbles the Clown, and other activities. There will be a pancake breakfast on the Saturday and Sunday mornings, and events at both the Lytton Museum and the Lytton Chinese History Museum.
One of Saturday’s highlights will be the opportunity to “Dunk a Cop” in the dunk tank, with money raised going to help a local animal rescue fund. Saturday will also see the return of a crowd favourite, chicken poop bingo. Local rafting companies are also offering whitewater rafting trips on the Thompson River during the festival.
The Two Rivers Farmers’ Market will run on all three days, offering local food and crafts, and there will be a dog show and pooch parade, street performers, a community dinner on Sunday, and more. “Each year the festival keeps on getting bigger and better,” says McCann.
She adds that this year’s event will also pay tribute to a longtime supporter of the Lytton River Festival who passed away in the last year.
“Shirley James was always a strong advocate for the River Festival. Her joy and enthusiasm radiated through her smile and laughter. For many years Shirley contributed to our Sunday mini-powwow. She was always happy, cheerful, and ready to assist during the events in whatever way she was needed.
“Shirley loved River Festival and looked forward to seeing her many friends. She loved the evening music and dancing to the bands. We will surely miss this gentle and kind spirit, and hope she looks down on this year’s celebration with happiness.”
The Lytton River Festival runs from Friday, Aug. 30 to Sunday, Sept. 1. For a full list of events and times, go to www.riverfestival.ca.