The River Festival rocked to the sounds of Ritchie & The Fendermen on Saturday evening

The River Festival rocked to the sounds of Ritchie & The Fendermen on Saturday evening

Rain doesn’t dampen Lytton River Festival

However, for a time the South Spencer Road fire west of town threatened to postpone the annual event, which went ahead as planned.

The 13th annual Lytton River Festival took place last weekend under damp skies and the shadow of the Spencer Road wildfire; but while attendance was somewhat down from last year, River Festival committee president Nonie McCann said that she was fine with that.

“It’s a free family- and kid-oriented event that’s completely paid for by sponsors, so it doesn’t matter how many come,” she says. She notes that the Labour Day weekend is a busy one, and adds that this year, the wildfire west of town probably didn’t help.

“If I was planning to come here, and then saw the news about the fire and evacuations, I might change my plans.” Her house was one of the ones affected by the evacuation order, and she said she had people calling her from all over.

Potential visitors were not the only ones concerned about the fire. McCann says that on the afternoon of September 1, less than 24 hours before the festival was due to start, the committee received a written request from Lytton First Nations to postpone the festival.

“It was partly for safety reasons in case the fire might get out of control, and also because there was no accommodation for evacuees,” says McCann. “And they felt it was disrespectful to have a party when people had been displaced.”

By the time the letter was received, many people had already arrived and the festival had been set up. A committee meeting was called to discuss the request, and directors canvassed people who had assembled at the community hall, including several elders, as well as members of Kevin Loring’s Savage Society. “We asked them if we should cancel, and the answer was a resounding no.”

At a BC Wildfire Services communications meeting on the evening of September 1 Dr. Rosalin Miles, administrator of LFN, made public the request to postpone the festival. McCann says that the response was to announce that the festival would go ahead, because “it was a good thing in the community in a time of stress. The festival is all about building community.”

A special announcement on the festival’s website stated that “The festival is an opportunity to focus on the resilience of our community members, facing these emergencies with good humor [sic] and positive action. The organizing committee has also expressed the intention of helping those adversely affected by the wildfire in any way possible.

“Consultations with numerous community members, including some evacuees, elders, and members of the Lytton First Nations indicate that the decision to continue with the festival would be supported by them.”

Matt Henry was on hand to entertain children of all ages at the festival. Snukwa7 Photography.

McCann is pleased with how the festival went, saying that the music and fire dancing events on Saturday evening were attended by hundreds of people, with many attendees dancing in the streets to the popular sounds of hometown group Ritchie & The Fendermen.

She also has nothing but praise for the hard work of the volunteers who made the event happen. “We can manage with 10 or 12 people on the committee, but we need four or five times that number of volunteers.” She singles out Judith Urquhart for special praise. “She is just amazing in what she does.”

McCann notes, however, that the committee will be taking a look at how things went when it comes time to plan for next year. “We’ll look at what we did, what was most effective, what we should hang on to and what we should change.” One difference next year might be starting events at noon rather than at 10 a.m. “Everyone wanted to sleep late this year,” she laughs.

Just Posted

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

Aerial view of a wildfire at 16 Mile, 11 kilometres northwest of Cache Creek, that started on the afternoon of June 15. (Photo credit: BC Wildfire Service)
Wildfire at 16 Mile now being held

Wildfire started on the afternoon of June 15 at 16 Mile, east of Highway 97

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

Most Read