The first 500 children to arrive at the Canada Day Children’s Festival will be given free Canada 150 T-shirts. -Image credit: Photo contributed

Children’s Festival celebrates Canada 150

Free annual event takes place at Salmon Arm Fairgrounds on July 1

Every year Shuswap children have an exciting way to celebrate Canada’s birthday.

The Canada Day Children’s Festival will be held, as always, on July 1 at the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds.

And the party is being amped up this year as the country marks its 150th birthday.

It is a wildly popular family event attended by approximately 5,000 people each year, says co-organizer Kari Wilkinson, who has been working with Karen Bubola and committee to host the free family event since 2009.

She says this year’s festival has a few new twists – some new bounce play structures, a hockey skills area including hockey radar gun; a Canada-themed scavenger hunt with some great prizes and free Canada 150 t-shirts to the first 500 kids.

Sponsored by Salmon Arm Children’s Festival, Salmon Arm Rotary, Tourism Shuswap and the Roots &Blues Festival, this year’s event will feature great entertainment.

Main stage entertainment will include Juno winner Norman Foote, magician Clinton Gray and children’s entertainer Papa Thom. SASCU will also make their official announcement of the winner of their $50,000 Canada 150 Grant just prior to the cake-cutting at 12:30 p.m.

The stage inside the Memorial Arena will feature the Salmon Arm Community Band and a dance exhibition.

New this year, and after many requests, a pancake breakfast will be hosted at the Fifth Avenue Seniors’ Centre from 8 to 10 a.m. Pancakes, juice and sausages will be available for $2 a plate. All proceeds will go to the Girl Guides and Pathfinders who will cook and serve the flapjacks.

Set-up and take-down of the festival occurs June 30 and July 1. More than 100 volunteers come out and work during the festival hours 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; however, there is also need for energetic, people to assist with getting all the gear set-up and, afterwards, putting it all away.

The event has been running in Salmon Arm for close to 30 years, driven by dedicated volunteers. If you have a group of people, can send over a few staff members, or have some spare time and want to help keep the children’s festival healthy and vibrant, please offer your help. Youths are encouraged to volunteer during the event on July 1 (minimum age 13 without an adult).

Wilkinson says she initially got involved because her Rotary club was asked to contribute to help revive the festival that had been run by the Naylor family for many years.

And she has been part of it ever since.

“It seemed like a pretty good challenge,” she says, noting groups that host games show what they have to offer. “It’s great to celebrate with our families and the fact people can come in for free makes it fabulous.”

Wilkinson says that, thanks to the dedication of core volunteers, the festival organization is now a well-oiled machine.

For more information, contact Kari Wilkinson at 250-832-8261 or Karen Bubola at 250-832-6192 or visit www.sachildrensfest.com.