The best young talent in the West Kootenay will perform at a variety of Trail venues as part of the long-awaited return of the Kootenay Festival of the Arts.
The popular festival, which first hit the stage in 1930, started April 11 and runs until April 23.
The annual event alternates yearly between Trail and Nelson and will showcase a wide selection of performing arts including dance, choral and vocal arts, speech and dramatic arts, piano, strings and guitars, and woodwinds, brass and bands at The Bailey Theatre, Trail United Church, and First Presbyterian Church.
“It’s great to see it back, because all the performing arts were really hard hit by COVID,” said festival spokesperson Michele Skuce. “There were no performances (during the pandemic), so to have this live opportunity again for the performers, and bringing in adjudicators from outside, is really valuable.”
Following a pandemic pause from 2020-22, more than 400 talented performance artists ages eight to 16 signed up for this year’s event. Organizers thanked the students, teachers and parents for their perseverance and commitment despite the challenges COVID brought to the arts community.
“A lot of us have been involved for a few of years, so having this forced break and being able to pick up and run it again has been wonderful,” said Skuce. “Numbers in dance was a bit down, but we have seen increases in strings and bands … so some of the areas have actually grown this year, which is amazing.”
The festival also welcomes an impressive array of adjudicators including Rossland raised musician and vocalist Nina Horvath, who now makes her home in Vancouver. A prolific performer, collaborator, and teacher, Horvath is committed to bringing music to small communities like those in Greater Trail and the West Kootenay.
Role models like Horvath and the other adjudicators provide instruction and guidance for emerging artists, and show them that they can make their artist goals a reality.
In addition to the respective performances, the artists will also participate in workshops that help enhance their skills and technique.
“A lot of professional artists and performers have gotten started at these kinds of festivals,” said Skuce. “So it’s a ground for that growth and development in our community.”
Performances resumed Monday, April 17, at the Trail United Church and First Presbyterian Church and continue through the week.
The festival will wind up on Sunday, April 23 with a highlights concert at 2 p.m. at The Bailey Theatre. This event is where the best of the best will perform, depending on availability.
“It’s really accessible for anybody, and again entry is by donation,” said Skuce. “It’s a great one to come to if you want to see an overview, because there will be a little bit of everything.”
The Kootenay Festival of the Arts also owes a huge thank you to all its volunteers and sponsors, including Teck, Columbia Power Corp., Kootenay Savings, Kiwanis, Columbia Basin Trust and many more, says Skuce.
Everyone is invited to attend the performances throughout the week, but are asked to be courteous and respectful. Also, do not enter when the class is in session. Live performances are to be enjoyed in the moment, meaning taking photos and videos is not permitted.
Go to kootenayfestivalofthearts.ca for more information, or stop by one of the venues for a program.