This year’s kids’ fest is going to be a bittersweet one for organizer Gord Osland, as it marks the last Rotary Okanagan International Children’s Festival he will be directly involved in.
“I am relieved and kind of sad,” said Osland, who is retiring after 30 years of involvement in children’s festivals, nine of them spearheading the Penticton festival. But even if he is feeling a little sad, he has lost none of his enthusiasm for the festival he helped create a decade ago.
“It’s amazing where it has gone,” said Osland. “It’s really turned into a community celebration, I am so proud of it and all of the staff.”
This year’s festival, he said, promises to be a great one, featuring new attractions like the Bridging the Gap workshop.
“Kids are going to interact with Circa from Australia, with Mauvais Sort from Quebec,” said Osland. “I just love this idea and this is the first time it is going to happen here. That kind of stuff you are not going to get anywhere else.”
He said it’s hard to pin down which act he is anticipating the most.
“These are all my favourites,” he said. “I am looking forward to BBoyizm, just because we have never had anything like that before.”
Tickets for the breakdancing crew from Toronto sold out so quickly, Osland said, that it was clear to him there is a market for that kind of act here.
“We’ve got more middle school and high school kids coming now, because they have discovered it is not just for little kids,” he said. “For the price of a movie, you get to come for the whole day and get to see great shows from all over the world. How can you miss?”
Another new act this year is the Kerplunks, which Osland discovered at a Kelowna show.
“This is a great kids’ show. I was so knocked out by those kids,” said Osland.
This year’s festival kicks off Thursday morning with the grand opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. and runs until Saturday, which is family day at the festival, with special all day ticket prices. More information and schedules for the performances are available online at www.okchildrensfest.org.