Penticton's Ha Ha Ha KidzFest 'entirely about celebrating'

'Entirely about celebrating'

Thursday kicked off the first day of Penticton's second annual Ha Ha Ha Kidzfest, a family-friendly event that aims to be as fun as its name.

Event organizer Jacki Kliever said the team can't help but say the name and then break out into giggles.

"This festival is great because it is entirely about celebrating," she said. "I think if anything, the kids get to learn that the world is a big place. They get to learn to experience things that maybe don't come about in their everyday life. And so they get to see the possibility of the world."

With its inception in 2019, the festival was unable to properly launch until 2022.

It now welcomes over approximately 1,000 people daily, with this year’s theme being “Imagination in Motion.”

The three days of an arts and culture festival for kids take place in Gyro Park and features a variety of on-stage performances such as live music, as well as arts and cultural activities, circus performances, face painting, an Indigenous Village and a Tiny Town.

Kliever said that so far, kids have been "thrilled" to be there.

"We have just seen them getting so engaged in what's happening, whether it's our main stage performers that have them just interacting, whether it's in our workshop zone where they get to work a little bit closer one on one with some of those actors, or whether it's in our all of our activity tents with our partners, we see kids creating and, and just experiencing new things that they haven't seen before."

Performer Robin Layne said he always enjoys getting to connect with the kids.

"We play music from all over the world inspired by my studies in Cuba and West Africa, and Mexico and Colombia. So we kind of take kids on a journey and invite them to join us up on stage and play some rhythm with us," he added.

"I love that rhythm especially it's something that we all have. And every culture around the world has a little bit of rhythm, a little bit of a drumming tradition. And so I find it's a great way to build community and to connect people. And I love seeing that light in the kid's eyes go when they start to play on a marimba."

Layne has two more shows and two more workshops on Friday and Saturday.

Thursday and Friday are primarily school field trip classes coming from across the Okanagan-Similkameen, including Kelowna, Oliver and Cawston. Saturday is a little bit more focused on families.

Kliever said she hopes to see more families and kids out over the next two days.

"It really is an entire community event. And so it is way bigger than just our little organizing team. It is the entire community that puts this together and we are very grateful."

The event runs on Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $9 plus taxes and can be purchased online at hahahakidzfest.com or at the gate on the day of.

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