The 9th Desert Daze is in the can. Now we look ahead to number 10!

by Mavourneen Varcoe-Ryan

Talk about timing! Desert Daze acquired a new 20×20 ft. stage canopy this year – and for the first time in 9 years we got rain! 

Is that it? Is summer over? Cool nights, smoky days … feeling like fall already! With Desert Daze behind us, we start planning for fall events.

We had a variety of weather for Desert Daze: super hot on Friday, which is what we’ve come to expect. Then on Saturday, for the first time in nine years, we got rain, real rain. Thank goodness we had our new stage tent (a huge thank you to Director Steve Rice and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District): it kept the rain off the stage (mostly), and the show went on!

What a show it was! Over the two days of the festival we had such amazing music. Our local talent shone, and as usual was very much appreciated by the crowd. We are very fortunate to have such accomplished musicians in our local communities! The “imports” from around B.C. and Alberta did not disappoint; such an eclectic mix of music, all of which was fantastic. I’m not sure I can pick a favourite. The cover bands had folks dancing, the singer-songwriters had folks toe-tapping and engaged: all great!

There were more children this year, and they seemed to have a blast! Mr. Bubbles the Clown proved to be a wonderful entertainer, and the balloon creations were a hit! Thanks to Jessica Clement for stopping by with activities for the kids; it was perfect to have some fun indoors while the storm blew through. Thanks, too, to the Rice family (too many of them involved to list!) for providing the bouncy castles! And of course the water games were well used and enjoyed in the heat (while we had it).

Unfortunately, the festival did not quite hit the financial target, and we are looking at a small loss this year. I’m blaming the weather on Saturday; with mudslides, flooding, road closures, and cool temperatures, some folks packed up and left, while others didn’t or couldn’t venture out. Those who were there either happily huddled under the tents or danced in that rain!

Mr. Bubbles and his balloon animal zoo was a great hit with all the kids of every age.

Thanks so much to everyone who came out. There’s not much point in putting on a festival without an audience, so thanks very much for supporting Desert Daze (and next year bring a friend or two to help us increase our numbers!). And I must thank all our sponsors: Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT), Heritage Canada, B.C. Arts Council, Teck Highland Valley, Second Time Around, CN, TNRD, Cook’s Ferry Band, ASC Automotive, Interior Roads, Interior Savings, The Packing House, Community Futures, Cariboo Septic, Secret Garden, and The Log Cabin Pub.

A huge thanks to our raffle prize donators as well: Echo Valley Ranch, FlyBC, Joe Moreira, Kumsheen Rafting, Kamloops Heritage Railway, Carol Madden, Linda Nichol, Fields, Safety Mart, The Inn at Spences Bridge, The Packing House, Genesis Spa and Salon, Dairy Queen, Gail and Grant Neidig, and the Spences Bridge Volunteer Fire Department. Thanks also to the Spences Bridge Improvement District and the fire department for the use of the property.

I cannot say enough about our incredible planning committee: Illana Fortin, Andrea Bona, Steve and Paulet Rice, Jan Schmitz, Arnie Oram, and honorary member Jim Duncan: thank you! There is so much behind the scenes work these dedicated folks do. I would be remiss not to thank the treasurer who puts in many hours sorting out my mess: thanks, Jim Ryan! Marilyn Hoskins, Carol Madden, and Illana Fortin get special thanks for the accommodations they provided at no cost.

Last but not least, a gigantic thank you to the volunteers! Not only to our own wonderful Spences Bridge folks; how fantastic to have our Ashcroft/Cache Creek neighbours pitch in and dedicate themselves to volunteer at our festival. We couldn’t do it without you all!

Next year will be our 10th annual festival, and we are already making big plans. We would like to invite back many special Desert Daze “alumni” from the last nine years, and as it is the 50th anniversary of Woodstock … well, we have something special in mind. See you there!

article reprinted with permission from the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal, Sept. 03, 2018

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