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Salmon Arm ROOTSandBLUES Festival organizers expanding ways to play

'Playing is good for hearts, souls and bodies and when you do it in community, it heightens the effect'
Chris Meikle helps Ava McCallum drop a blob of blue paint on her artwork in the making before Carson Meikle gets it spinning at the Meikle Studios tent at the 2019 ROOTSandBLUES. Opportunities for creativity and play will be kicked up several levels at this year's festival, July 26-28 at the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds. (File photo)

Regular patrons know Salmon Arm's ROOTSandBLUES Festival is a feel-good experience.

Music educator Roxy Roth, who co-created this year’s festival workshops with artistic director Kevin Tobin, concurs, but adds that of equal importance is the power of participation and play for adults as well as children.

“I’m super stoked to be co-creating interactive experiences where patrons are immersed in the experience in order to take the power of music a little bit deeper,” she said. “When we are actively involved, we deepen our experience for the benefit of their hearts, minds and bodies.”

Led by Māmā Mihirangi, Transcending Boundaries is a workshop dedicated to actions, words, and the significance of the powerful New Zealand Haka, which honours the enduring spirit of your Whakapapa by embodying the essence, virtues and Intrinsic strength of Ngā Hine Ariki (the female deities).

In Globetrotting, master rhythm instructor Bobby Bovenzi and Nankama Drum & Dance present a mind, body and soul-filling workshop where traditional rhythms are showcased the way the masters of Africa intended.

Or how about, Damn Right! We Got the Blues, a workshop that would blow the roof off if there was one. Get a taste of the blues with Rick Estrin the Nightcats and the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio.

Looking at “Both Sides Now” spans Joni Mitchell’s prolific career with talented artists Begonia, Rebecca Sichon, Heidi Munro and Scott Patrick showcasing songs from one of Canada’s greatest artists.

When you are not filling your hearts and minds with awesome music, why not get up and move.

What was previously known as the Kids’ Zone has been taken over by the Whimsy Squad, thanks to Roth’s vision about the power of play for everyone. 

“Playing is good for hearts, souls and bodies and when you do it in community, it heightens the effect,” said Roth who wanted the festival to be more inclusive. “Whimsy is a mindset, a way of seeing the world with wonder and curiosity and expecting the unexpected.”

Roth says the Whimsy Team’s mission is to create unusual, amusing, visual and playful experiences to spark imagination and connection among festival patrons of all ages. Play, youth engagement and community connections are core values that are at the heart of this mission. 

“We have an amazing roster of creative minds that have come together to lead, create and volunteer,” she said, pointing out the Whimsy team has several functions. Prior to the festival, the Site Decor team will install decor and functional experiences with a site-wide Enchanted Gardens theme to create some visual festival vibe. 

A dynamic Arts and Crafts team will host a space for people to freely play on their own or engage with others to create interactive murals using the spin bike or the paint catapult.

Known as the Whimsy Rovers, this team will incite festival patrons of all ages to engage with roving popup activities like Giant Jenga, camp style games and water balloon play.

Roth, aka Miss Whimsy, said the Music Heals team aims to raise awareness about the healing power of music through the interactive Bandwagon, which will provide opportunities for festival patrons to play and record on a mobile music recording studio setup.

As sun fades to night, the festival site takes on a magical air, one that this year will be amplified by a glow parade at 10 p.m. on Saturday. A team from Kelowna will bring LED props to add a warm glow to the evening.

The Whimsy Squad offers a wide variety of opportunities for folks to volunteer. Youth volunteers, ages 12-18, are welcome to volunteer with a parent/guardian who is also an active volunteer. 

“In 2023 we had over a third of our team being youth between the ages of 12-18 years old, and many family units volunteering together,” Roth said, noting that the age for youth volunteers on other teams is 14-plus. “This is a great opportunity for your family to play together while experiencing the joy that volunteering can bring!’

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