Extending a welcome to Salmon Arm for Festival 2019 in July next year are co-chairpersons Jean Wood of Salmon Arm and Bill Morey of Penticton. The three-day dance convention will feature square, round, clog, contra and line dancing at the Shaw Centre complex seen in the background. (Photo contributed)

Big festival to dance into Salmon Arm

Dancers from North America and abroad invited to Festival 2019 next July

Some people in towns throughout the Shuswap may look a little different next year.

They’ll be clad in dancewear, ready for a big dance convention that plays out in Salmon Arm from July 11 to 13, 2019.

An estimated 500 to 1,000 dancers will converge on the city’s Shaw Centre complex for Festival 2019, with pre- and post-events expanding the dates to July 10 to 14.

Just for fun and learning, the event will feature modern square dancing, round dancing (choreographed ballroom) and clog dancing. Additional dance forms such as contra and line dancing may be added.

Plans include operating a separate dance hall—probably at the adjacent curling rink—where the general public can try most of the dance styles included at the festival.

Wooden floors will be laid over hard surfaces for the dancers’ comfort and smooth movement.

The festival is a biennial convention that moves around the province and is sponsored by the non-profit B.C. Square & Round Dance Federation. It was last in Salmon Arm in 1999 and the closest location since was Vernon in 2009. Surrey presented last year’s festival.

The sizable undertaking is being hosted by two non-profit organizations: the Thompson-Shuswap Square & Round Dance Association and the Okanagan Square & Round Dance Association. It’s supported by volunteers from Kamloops to Salmon Arm and south as far as Okanagan Falls.

Organizers say this will be the largest of festivals in recent years, with dancers being invited from across Canada, the U.S. and abroad.

Dancer and entertainer pre-registration packages are already underway and hotel properties are finding that pre-registrants are scooping up the blocked rooms. The dancers are also exploring RV sites.

The three days of dancing promise to be a big boost to the area’s economy as the dancers seek accommodation, dining, shopping, services and area attractions.

Festival organizers are inviting the Shuswap business community to be a partner or sponsor and perhaps contribute to the big silent auction to take place during the event. There is also a call for volunteers from the community to assist.

As well, local business owners are invited to apply to take part in an indoor exhibitors’ area during the festival. Booth applications are welcome now.

Festival 2019 has a growing webpage located at BCFestival2019.com. In Salmon Arm, festival co-chair Jean Wood can be contacted at: 250-833-9227. Also, a toll-free infoline is available at 1-800-335-9433. Emails can be directed to: info@BCFestival2019.com.

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