Ten-day Ignites The Arts festival ready to roll in Penticton

Penticton ignites the arts

If you haven’t heard about the Ignite the Arts 10-day extravaganza planned for Penticton, let me to enlighten you.

Boldly, the organizers have declared the annual event is “here to ignite Penticton as the arts capital of B.C.”

And why not?

Last year’s inaugural festival featured more than 200 artists of almost any genre you can think of – visual, musical, theatrical – and created not just a vibrant buzz, but an enchanting sense of cultural community.

Events, exhibitions and performances are set to take place at multiple indoor and outdoor venues (as well as virtual) and there are numerous workshops to attend with both free and ticketed (paid) experiences.

Smartly, the calendar of events is split into two main themes: Community Week from March 24-30 with the majority of Ignite’s free events, and Festival Weekend from March 31 to April 2 with the majority of the ticketed events at host venues the Dream Café, Tempest Theatre, the local Elk’s Hall, Cannery Brewing and Britbar.

More than 40 community partners have come together for Community Week, kicking off at the Penticton Art Gallery at 5 p.m. Friday, March 24 with a “Parade for No Reason.” Bring the kids, wear a costume, paint your face and decorate your bikes or strollers for a parade that declares its sole purpose is to spread happiness and cheer. Everyone is then welcome to head to Cannery Brewing for the unveiling of 10 mini-murals.

Keep the wagons and fuel-free transports spruced up for the Penticton and District Community Arts Council Art Walk the next day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Saturday, March 25). Download a map and draw your route to more than two dozen galleries, studios and artistic pop-ups throughout Penticton.

From March 26-29, plan on attending some or all of the virtual Confluence Conference, a series of virtual events that will showcase, workshops and keynote presentations in partnership with 2 Rivers Remix Festival. Indigenous musicians will present their craft in a virtual livestream, culminating in a live music showcase.

The schedule for the Festival, aka "wristband," Weekend is packed and colourful, much like the weekend itself. Look for colour codes indicating music, workshop, kid-friendly, food, workshop, dance or theatre. Paint Your Pride over brunch with the South Okanagan Similkameen Pride Society, watch a fire spinner, stay up late for HARDBALL, Balkan Shmalkan or Blackberry Wood and Take in one-minute or 10-minute plays.

Get your wristband or day pass online and choose from an incredible lineup of 100 performances across six venues in Penticton’s downtown core.

Prepare to be inspired and probably a little exhausted when this whirlwind wraps up.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Okanagan Taste changing it's focus

Changing tastes

It’s time for a change of taste

After almost 150 columns, I’m switching things up. It’s still the same Okanagan Taste, but with some fresh ingredients.

Much of the musings here for the last few years have been about what to sip, from wines to ciders to cocktails to the occasional beer, and where to sip them.

Before I moved back to the Okanagan from several big cities around Canada, my career was rooted in arts and culture–with pit stops in post-secondary education– and, in fact, I came back to work in cultural tourism.

That was not meant to be. But it doesn’t mean it can’t be reinvented and revised.

There’s much to explore in the Okanagan, and after 15 years immersed in the exploration of one flavour of the valley, I’m going back to my roots in arts and culture, and Okanagan Taste is shifting to covering performers, artists, theatre, books, music, bands, movies, an occasional night on the town, and sometimes a night in to watch what everyone is streaming and experiment with gourmet popcorn.

First up? Combine a bit of the old (a sip of wine) with something new at Grizzli Winery in West Kelowna this weekend as it welcomes its new spring art rotation in the Grizzli Art Gallery, located inside of the winery’s 20,000-square-foot tasting room.

The exhibition, “In Her Eyes,” displays the works of four Okanagan artists—abstract artist Maggie Kozina, acrylic artist Arlene Buick, mixed media artist Alice Tunnell and acrylic artist Elizabeth Flesher. This exhibit is about embracing individual perspective and seeing a story through someone else’s lens.

The official launch party is March 11 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m, and as you peruse the art you’ll be serenaded by the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra Quartet. Included in a silent auction are four special pieces of art donated by the artists themselves, with proceeds going to the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra.

There is no charge for admission, but you must RSVP.

After that visual art experience, it’s volunteering and taking in shows at Penticton’s Ignite the Arts Festival, running at multiple venues from March 24 to April 2, a 10-day celebration split into a community week and a festival weekend.

Events include the unveiling of the Penticton Art Gallery’s Mini Mural project in partnership with Cannery Brewing, the Lake to Lake Art Walk, in partnership with the Penticton and District Community Arts Council, the Confluence Conference in partnership with En’owkin Centre, a Children and Youth Song Writing Camp in partnership with the Penticton Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, and a Parade for No Reason.

And after that, maybe I’ll sit down with a chef or two. Follow along and find out.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Sweet and tasty ideas for your beloved

Celebrate Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is approaching, as is “Galentine’s” Day, now growing in popularity, the day before Cupid arrives.

Maybe you’ll be acknowledging one of these days quietly at home, or opting for an “errand-hang” – when you and a pal get together to literally run errands while catching up – instead of something extravagant. Not a bad idea given the general state of the world and the economy.

Need some inspiration? Here are a few ideas to ponder.

Preparing a meal for someone you care about is a sign of affection, no matter who’s coming to dinner. Simplify the work by ordering a takeout Valentine’s Day meal kit, so no one has to stress over shopping or clean-up. Brodo Kitchen and Catering in Penticton has an option for pickup this Friday and Oliver’s Phantom Creek can deliver a dinner for two to select southern areas of the Okanagan Valley.

Combine an errand-hang with a visit to a local spot to celebrate friendship. Township 7 on the Naramata Bench hosts Love is Blind, Lake Country’s Scenic Sip wine trail has Sweetheart Pairings benefitting the Heart and Stroke Foundation (Gray Monk will have a pop-up jewelry shop with Andrea Blais), the Westside Wine Trail has Sip With Your Sweetheart, and vinAmité in Oliver will host its third annual Valentine pairing experience.

Didn’t like your prom? Kudos to Kelowna’s Rustic Reel Brewing for hosting a do-over.

A gift of wine is always a good idea. For their on-the-nose names, grab a bottle of Smooth Red from Bodacious, or a bottle of OMG sparkling wine from Blasted Church. Any of the sparkling choices from Noble Ridge – The One, The Pink One, The Fizzy One – will do nicely if you’re looking for something to pop.

If you’re familiar with Osoyoos Larose wines, its new La Maison membership might just be the ultimate wine gift for yourself or your favourite wine lover.

If that membership is out-of-reach, explore the options of the Gone West Wine Club. With flexible options, members can enjoy a variety of wines and choose how often to have wine delivered with pairing suggestions and serving tips. It could be the gift keeps giving through the whole year.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Crossing the Canada-U.S. border with B.C. wine

B.C. wine in the U.S.

As the B.C. wine industry matures and wines from around the province win more and more medals and recognition internationally, the refrain of “it’s too bad I can’t buy this in the U.S.” is becoming all too familiar from our friends south of the 49th parallel.

American visitors here can’t ship wine to themselves, and the number of bottles they can take back in their luggage is limited. But there is another option—Kascadia Wine Merchants in California.

Yes, the “Eureka!” state, or so says Wikipedia, meaning, “I have found it!.” Therefore, Eureka! You have found an online shop where your friends in America can purchase Canadian wine and have it shipped to them in America.

Industry folks who attended the Fortify Conference in Penticton this past November may have taken in a presentation by Kascadia’s founder, VJ Gandhi, or had a chat with her. VJ is a “proud Canadian citizen with epicurean taste” and a passion for supporting artisan winemakers and exposing them to the U.S. market.

This is not a small feat, and it is not a simple process, but it is possible.

From the consumer side south of the border, it’s as easy as online shopping. With 45 states now in the Kascadia portfolio and a robust marketing plan for each winery she brings in – each winery has its own page on the Kascadia site – the company has grown from the novelty of buying Canadian wine or servicing Canadian ex-pats, to inspiring wine lovers in the U.S. to buy wines from north of the border.

With restaurant clients, including a Michelin-starred spot in San Francisco where you can order a bottle from Oliver’s Winemaker’s Cut, plus both retail and wholesale clients, VJ’s goal is to see wines from Canada have the respect and recognition given to other wine-producing countries, like France or Australia.

And why not be this ambitious as an industry? We have the goods and we have the brand.

During the first year of the pandemic, Kascadia’s average purchase shot up from two bottles to hundreds of dollars spent on one sale, and in six months, VJ’s inventory was sold out.

For wineries, VJ and her team can walk them through the process to get their bottles into her online marketplace so this coming season, when a guest in a tasting room is disappointed he or she can’t get a wine back home in the U.S., wineries can confidently say, “Yes, as a matter of fact, you can.”

Upcoming Events

Feb. 4: Apex Mountain Resort – The popular winter wine event Vertical & Vintages returns to the Gunbarrel Saloon.

Through to Feb. 9: Multiple venues throughout the valley – Reserve a table or two at a favourite or new-to-you restaurant during Dine Around.

Through to Feb. 14: Multiple venues throughout the valley – Explore the flavour map for the second annual Okanagan Hot Chocolate Festival.

Through March: Grizzli Winery in West Kelowna — Book an icewine tour, available daily.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

A creative thinker with more than two decades of experience in communications, Allison is an early adopter of social and digital media, bringing years of work in traditional media to the new frontier of digital engagement marketing through her company, All She Wrote.

She is the winner of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association's 2011 and 2012 awards for Social Media Initiative, an International LERN award for marketing, and the 2014 Penticton Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Hospitality/Tourism.

Allison has amassed a following on multiple social networks of more than 30,000, frequently writes and about social media, food and libations as well as travel and events, and through her networks, she led a successful bid to bring the Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton in June 2013, one of the largest social media wine events in the world, generating 31 million social media impressions, $1 million in earned media, and an estimated ongoing economic impact of $2 million.

In 2014, she held the first Canadian Wine Tourism Summit to spark conversation about the potential for wine tourism in Canada as a year-round economic driver.

Allison contributes epicurean content to several publications, has been a judge for several wine and food competitions, and has earned her advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

In her spare time, she has deep, meaningful conversations with her cats.

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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