Competition pow wow returns to the Similkameen

A dancer is pictured at the Similkameen Pow Wow in Keremeos in this contributed photo.
Image Credit: Contributed

PENTICTON - A weekend of colourful native culture comes to the Similkameen Valley next weekend as the Similkameen Pow Wow takes place west of Keremeos.

En’owkin Centre Student Support Services’ Karen Terbasket says the event is a competition pow wow with various age groups competing for money.

“Dancers come from all over Western Canada and the Western U.S. Last year we had a drum group from Ontario,” she says.

Categories include all age levels, including tiny tots with some youngsters barely able to walk taking part in the event, right up to elders in the golden age category.

The event takes place at the Ashnola Campground near Keremeos.

“We’ve been hosting the event for 18 years,” Terbasket says. “The whole community benefits, with members setting up concessions and local dancers participating from all of our Okanagan communities as well as our visiting communities.”

The biggest show is usually Saturday evening, as some dancers are still on the road Friday evening. Terbasket says the night time show offers more vibrancy, as costume colours resonate much better in the darkness.

“The excitement comes out in the evening, under the lights. It’s generally our most highly attended show,” she says.

Terbasket says the pow wow is a social event, bringing people of all nations and religions together.

“It’s open to everyone to enjoy the event and learn about native culture,” she says, noting dances originate in different parts of the country, derived from both ceremonial and spiritual roots.

“We have competitors who spend whole summers travelling and competing in pow wows,” Terbasket says.

The Similkameen Pow Wow will be held  Sept. 2 to Sept. 4, 2016 at the Ashnola Campground near Keremeos.
The Similkameen Pow Wow will be held Sept. 2 to Sept. 4, 2016 at the Ashnola Campground near Keremeos.
Image Credit: Contributed

“They are becoming more and more popular, especially with people who are looking for something outside their own social norms,” she says.

The two and a half day event gets underway Friday, Sept. 2 at 7 p.m., with two sessions Saturday, at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. and a 1 p.m. session Sunday. Saturday's session includes a competition for non-native dancers as well.

The Similkameen Pow Wow is open to the general public, and is a drug and alcohol free event.

Camping is available at no cost at the Ashnola Campground. Cost for the pow wow is $10 per day for adults, children six and under are free.

To find the Ashnola Campground, follow the signs off Highway 3 just west of Keremeos at the Ashnola Road turnoff.


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