Get ready to kick up your heels and enjoy some great entertainment, when the Walhaschindig returns from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 3.
The first Walhaschindig took place in Walhachin in 2016, and occurred annually through 2019. It has been on hiatus for the past three years, but the fifth annual event is now in the planning stages, with a full day of music, singing, dancing, food vendors, and more set for the historic Soldiers Memorial Hall.
A longtime support of Walhaschindig is Northern Development Initiative Trust, which has provided a grant for each event. Organizer Assu Nydam says that NDIT has once again provided funding through its “Fabulous Festivals and Events” program to assist with promotion, advertising, and helping to pay for entertainers.
“They’ve done it every year for us that we’ve been running, and it’s been very helpful,” he says, noting that the Thompson-Nicola Regional District has also provided support. There is no admission charge for the event, but donations at the door are always welcome, he adds.
Among the musical acts that are already booked are the Kamloops Old Time Fiddlers, the Kamloops Ukulele Orchestra, The Dire Heart from Ashcroft, and Cave Walker and the Dwellers from Lillooet. Nydam says that the organizers are always looking for more people who would like to perform.
“We offer 30-40 minute sets, and it’s great to hear people and give them the experience of doing something in front of an audience. We get 200 to 400 people at each event over the course of the day.” He adds that it’s not just musicians who can take part: “A comedian would be good, or any entertainer. And we’d love to have First Nations people perform. We’ve reached out to local First Nations, as we’d like to get them involved.”
Anyone who would like to offer kids’ items, or arts and crafts, is also welcome, as are volunteers willing to help out for the day. Nydam notes that most of the volunteers come from outside Walhachin, as there simply aren’t enough people in the community to do it themselves.
“We want to promote it as a family event, and it’s very inclusive. That’s why we hold it during the day. We’ll have food vendors, and will be selling beer and wine, and there will be 50/50 draws. There’s camping around here, so people can stay in the area, and that’s why we don’t go too late.”
The impetus to start the event, back in 2016, was so that the Memorial Hall could be used again for community events and provide a showcase for local talent from Lytton and Spences Bridge to Williams Lake and Kamloops. Nydam says that the name for the event came from a chance encounter in a store in Kamloops.
“We were telling the guy in line ahead of us about it, and invited him to come to Walhachin and enjoy the live event. He replied ‘Oh, you’re going to have a Walhaschindig!’ It’s pretty well known now. Everywhere we go we say where we’re from, and people say ‘Oh, the Walhaschindig!’ It has an identity.”
In addition to showcasing the Soldiers Memorial Hall and the renovations to the building and grounds, the event gives people an opportunity to see the numerous displays at the museum within the hall.
“We’ve been expanding the museum and adding pieces,” says Nydam, noting that they now have a collection of toys from the 1910s through the 1930s, displayed in four glasses cases that were recently purchased with donations. Another recent acquisition is a saddle from the 31st Regiment, British Columbia Horse, which had a squadron based in Walhachin at the start of World War I.
Nydam says that the Friends of Walhachin Society is currently working with the ASETS program and has received approval to hire three First Nations students to come and work in the museum.
“We want to catalogue it and digitize all the information. We have such a big collection; we want to record it, and we need help running the museum, so we’re looking to hire three university students from May 1 to September 1.”
He adds that the focus is always on the community of Walhachin, which is why Walhaschindig started.
“It’s such a unique place and has such an interesting record. So many people were affected by Walhachin over the years, and people remember their cousin or relative who was here.
“Walhaschindig has been going for several years, and we hope to keep going and expand.”
Anyone who would like more information, or who would like to perform or help out, can email email@example.com.
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