Penticton festival finds new blood

Influx of board members breathes new life into Penticton Kiwanis Music, Dance and Speech Arts Festival

An outpouring of community support has helped save the 86-year-old Penticton Kiwanis Music, Dance and Speech Arts Festival.

“We had a wonderful response from the public,” said Lorna Bull, secretary for the festival. “We now have 19 board members, and along with the board members that already said they were staying on, they have taken on all the jobs and positions we needed to fill. So we are ecstatic and very excited about going forward.”

Last week, Bull and Kiwanis festival organizers had their backs against the wall as they were walking into their annual general meeting with no leads on who could fill vital positions in order for the annual festival to see its 87th year of existence.

Through a series of untimely situations, the festival was without a president, vice-president, treasurer and other key roles on the board were empty. Bull said she was nervous heading to the meeting last Thursday but was pleased when a large number of community members showed up to offer their assistance.

“There are now 19 board members, those key roles are filled. Before the meeting we only had seven members. These people are wonderful, have a huge variety of talents and skills and we now have most of the jobs covered to go into the future,” said Bull. “We, of course, will be looking still for loads of volunteers to help us man the festival next April, but we will get to that in the new year.”

Bull said there were 20 people around their table last Thursday, which she said is “unheard of.”

“We are just thrilled,” said Bull. “We really are happy that the people that came noticed we were in trouble and thought they could give us some assistance.”

Last year the festival saw about 1,400 entries from performers all over the Okanagan. These performers are judged and those that received top marks went on to the provincial festival. The Penticton festival handed out $7,000 of scholarships and bursaries to performers in 2012 so they can continue with their lessons the following year.

The newly elected executive include president Danica Venables, vice-president Paul Biro, treasurer Pat Stephen as well as board members for each of the disciplines in the festival. For more on the festival or more on how to volunteer visit