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Plenty of events at Ryga Festival in Summerland

Festival will be held Sept. 20 to 24
An arts festival from Sept. 20 to 24 will celebrate the legacy of George Ryga, an internationally renowned author and playwright. Ryga lived in Summerland from the early 1960s until his death in 1987. (Photo contributed)

The eighth annual Ryga Arts Festival, to be held in Summerland from Sept. 20 to 24, will feature a diverse blend of music, theatre and spoken word.

This year the festival will have a special theme of Solidarity with Ukraine, and will also celebrate the rich Ukrainian heritage in Canada.

The festival was established in 2016 to preserve and promote the legacy of George Ryga, (1932-1987).

Ryga was born in northern Alberta to Ukrainian refugee parents. He was one of the most influential playwrights in Canadian history and his work encompasses a huge variety of genres, including poetry, novels, plays, television and radio.

Some of Ryga’s early novels deal with the harsh life of Ukrainian immigrants.

Ryga left the family farm and started writing after winning a scholarship to the Banff School of the Arts. He was 30 when he moved with his family to Summerland, where he died in 1987.

The Ryga Arts Festival is one of the few festivals featuring a mix of music, theatre, spoken word and visual arts.

There will be other musical, theatrical and spoken word events, featuring regional talent. The Summerland Library will host a number of author readings, and entertain young and old alike with storytelling from the vast collection of Ukrainian folk-tales collected and published by Summerland’s own Danny Evanishen of Summerland.


A Salute to Ukraine Variety Show

This event will have a mix of music, dance, stories and poetry from some of the 45 poets whose work was included in a volume entitled Poems in Response to Peril: An Anthology in Support of Ukraine.

The invited poets will read from their works accompanied by local musicians.

Participating poets and writers include Harold Rhenisch, Patricia Keeney, Sharon Thesen, Yvonne Blomer and Don Gayton.

The event will be held Wednesday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Summerland Waterfront Resort.

Concert: Canadian Songwriter Spectacular

The Ryga Arts Festival teams with Craig Milton who with his wife Deb hosts this house concert series.

This will be a unique concert with five singer-songwriters performing together and independently: Dan Tait, Rusty Someone, Aiden Mayes and Josh and Bex. Seating is limited so book early for this special event presented by Summerland’s own house concert hosts, An Evening in the Valley.

The concert will be held on Thursday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. The location will be provided to ticket purchasers.

Drama: Alina

Alina, a play by Leanna Makuch is inspired by the true experiences of a 19-year-old Ukrainian volunteer combat medic who leaves everything behind to go to the front line of one of the deadliest battles of the war in eastern Ukraine. But it’s when she returns home to the shock of peaceful civilian life that she realizes her struggle does not end at the front.

Alina is a breathless journey towards and away from war. It is a production of Pyretic Productions of Edmonton and was created after three visits to Ukraine by the artistic team.

The play will be held Friday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. at Centre Stage Theatre.

Concert: Return of the Ryga Brothers

A jazz concert will feature Campbell Ryga on saxophone, Sergei Ryga on keyboard and vocal, Cameron Ward on bass and Dan Marcelino on drums and vocals. Roark Critchlow of Summerland will be the MC.

The concert will be held on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. at Centre Stage Theatre.

will be MC. Be prepared for some excellent jazz, original compositions and a few surprises! Saturday, September 23, 7:00 pm - Centre Stage Theatre


Opening ceremony

The opening ceremony will be held Sept. 20 at 10:30 a.m. at the George Ryga Arts and Cultural Centre and Museum Plaza.

Ukraine: What Can We Do?

A facilitated panel discussion brings the community together to identify solutions and strategies to help on a personal, local, and political level.

Organizers are inviting some who need our help and others who are already helping to settle Ukrainian refugees. Panelists include Andrea Malysh, president of the local branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress; Pavlo Lavreniuk, a trained agronomist who recently arrived from Ukraine and settled in Penticton and Galia Kwetny, an abstract painter, who came to Canada in 2002 from Israel and has been helping the local Ukraine Nightingale Project as a translator.

The event will be held Sept. 20 at 11 a.m. Tickets are free and donations will go to local organizations helping Ukrainian refugees.

Brown Bag Arts Social

Celebrate Culture Days and the Ryga Arts Festival by showcasing your creativity through art. No experience is necessary. Drop by the Summerland Branch Library and pick up a brown paper bag with art supplies. Choose one of these themes: Ukraine, conflict, love, belonging, security, or home.

Bring back your finished work to the library for a show-and-tell session on Friday, Sept. 22, between 3 and 4 p.m. Hosted by the Summerland Branch of the Okanagan Regional Library.

Theatre Trail

The Ryga Arts Festival is partnering with Summerland Singers and Players to present this popular community event. The trail consists of five original short plays by local playwrights, performed in storefronts and other venues in downtown Summerland.

Theatre Trail has been a popular part of the Ryga Arts Festival since its beginning.

Past locations have included Barber Bill’s, TimberMart, the horseshoe clubhouse, the Summerland Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop and other unexpected places.

The event begins Sept. 23 at 1 p.m. with check-in at the Summerland Branch of the Okanagan Regional Library

Swing Dance with Aaron Loewen

Jazz guitarist Aaron Loewen plays his favourite music from the Swing Era and Gypsy Jazz.

The event will be held on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 4 p.m. at the Summerland Community Centre, 9710 Brown St.

Festival Wind-Up Hootenanny/Singalong

In keeping with tradition, the festival will wind up with a hootenanny. participants are urged to bring their instruments and voices to join in. Refreshments of all kinds are available.

The event will be held Sept. 24 at 3 p.m. at the Summerland Community Centre, 9710 Brown St.

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John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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