A typical afternoon at an early Lee Creek Harvest Festival. (Jim Cooperman photo)

A typical afternoon at an early Lee Creek Harvest Festival. (Jim Cooperman photo)

Column: The 1980s were the golden years for the Lee Creek Harvest Festival

Shuswap Passion by Jim Cooperman

By Jim Cooperman


Part 2 of a two-part series.

It may have been the success of the early Lee Creek harvest festivals that inspired the upper community to dedicate one acre for a community centre, complete with a playing field.

The stage was skidded to the dedicated acre, where in 1983 many community members, who now included friends that lived nearby, began building a post and beam community centre. That year another very popular event was added to the summer season called the Lee Creek Prom, with the dancers enjoying a newly built floor under the stars.

What I would call the golden years of the festival were in the 1980s and early 1990s, when the audience sat on bleachers in front of the first section of the hall and there was a dressing room behind the stage. Unlike most community events elsewhere, the festival was free for all those who attended. Community members provided the funds to cover the cost of the feast and other expenses and they donated their time and materials.

Every spring there was a meeting/party, at which all of our names were put into a hat to draw and determine randomly who would be in each skit group. After a summer of skit rehearsals, the Monty Python inspired skits were quite imaginative and evoked much laughter. Some of the themes included hypnotism, a Pierre Trudeau canoe trip, Robin Hood, an airplane trip, a take-off of Rosemary’s Baby, the salmon run, a house full of talking furniture, and a Sam Spade detective that travels back to the time of the druids.

In addition to the skits that were performed by community members as well as visitors from other communities, there were solo or group filler acts, and one or more bands that played long into the night. The weekend would begin with a potluck and dress rehearsals on the Friday night, and volleyball, kid’s games, a parade, an occasional tacky fashion show and a feast before the show on Saturday night. Often, the nearby fields were filled with people camping in trucks, vans and tents.

Read more: Column: Remembering the famed Lee Creek Harvest Festival

Read more: WATCH: Shuswap man indulges hockey passion on – and in – an icy BC creek

For those who could stay up all night, there was the infamous “Ed Show” around the fire early Sunday morning where our resident amateur comedian and his sidekick, Ed, told off-colour jokes. Sunday evening was dedicated to the awards night, where the “Golden Cones” were presented to the most popular performers, skits and other categories from the previous year, based on the audience voting cards that were submitted.

When the technology became available, the awards show included short videos of the performances, a’ la the Oscars. The outdoor stage was abandoned when the Lee Creek Community Centre was expanded to its current size in the late 1990s, and the festival moved inside, which fit the new time slot that was much later in the year. As the community grew older, hill folk became too busy with a variety of other projects and lost interest in putting on skits and investing time into local social events. Additionally, when the festival was held indoors later in the year, some of the charm was lost.

The final festival was held in 2005 and now, more than 15 years later, there is plenty of time to reminisce about these glorious days of our youth. In the last few years, the hall was renovated through work parties, and more events were happening up until the pandemic, including the still popular Prom. Since the time of settlement in the early 20th century, dozens of communities in the Shuswap have built halls and have hosted similar events, but it is unlikely that there were any as unique and creative as the Lee Creek Harvest Festival.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Shuswap Lake


Building the first section of the Lee Creek Community Centre in 1983. (Jim Cooperman photo)

Building the first section of the Lee Creek Community Centre in 1983. (Jim Cooperman photo)

A scene from the 1983 skit, “The Case of the Missing Statue,” featuring the late Willy Gaw, Jim Cooperman and David Balser. (Contributed)

A scene from the 1983 skit, “The Case of the Missing Statue,” featuring the late Willy Gaw, Jim Cooperman and David Balser. (Contributed)

Just Posted

As they carry out a FireSmart assessment in Salmon Arm, firefighters Carmen Guidos and Steve St. Denis show one of the easy-to-rectify fire hazards that can exist for unsuspecting residents. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Column: Lessons on welcoming a wildfire into your home

The View From Here by Martha Wickett

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

A 30-unit park model complex is proposed for two adjacent lots located on the Sicamous Channel north of Martin Street. (District of Sicamous graphic)
Park model complex proposed for Sicamous channel properties

Twin Anchors’ Todd Kyllo said lots would be serviced, boat slips available

New Border Bruins owner Dr. Mark Szynkaruk reps team colours with his young sons and wife Tracey. Photo courtesy of the Grand Forks Border Bruins
KIJHL’s Border Bruins sold to Grand Forks doctor

The league announced the sale Friday, May 14

Since late April, Shuswap residents may have been seeing an influx of white-crowned sparrows as they have been moving northward on their annual spring migration. (John Woods photo)
Sparrows stop by the Shuswap as they head north for spring

Bird watcher has seen about 100 per day during the peak of their visit

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Kelowna Law Courts. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Former Vernon teacher found guilty of historic sex crimes against minors

Anoop Singh Klair was found guilty of all eight charges against him in a Kelowna courtroom on Friday

The real estate market is hot in Vernon, and across the Okanagan. (John Dent photo)
North Okanagan home prices, demand continue to build

Single family home volumes up 200 per cent, worth average $647,000

An algal bloom on Wood Lake has residents concerned for the body of water's health. (Wendy Innes-Shaw)
‘Wood Lake looks seriously unwell’: Lake Country residents

Algal bloom appears to be getting worse, and stinky

A wildfire southeast of Vernon has been added to the BC Wildfire dashboard Friday, May 14, 2021. (BC Wildfire Service)
Wildfire sparks southeast of Vernon

The fire appears to be in a remote area east of Aberdeen Lake

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Enderby’s Small Axe Roadhouse was the subject of nasty backlash after installing two busty beer towers. (Facebook)
Enderby bar’s busty beer taps to stay put despite backlash

‘Many folks have mansplained to us that we are sexist, misogynistic…’

Most Read