July 24, 2014 - 3:59 PM
KAMLOOPS - The largest pow wow in the west is just over a week away and organizers are busy preparing for the nearly 20,000 people expected to attend the event.
The Kamloopa Pow Wow is set for Aug. 1-3 and will feature about 600 dancers, about a dozen drumming groups and a variety of Aboriginal artisans. Society president Delyla Daniels says they once again expect to see 15,000-20,000 spectators over the three days as well.
“We’re usually at capacity every day,” she says, adding this year is the 35th anniversary of the pow wow so there will be some special events as well.
Daniels is waiting for confirmation on a special artist who will sing as part of the artisan showcase and auction Saturday night and a group from Pawnee, Oklahoma will bring a southern style to the event as the first ever southern host drum.
She says the entire pow wow scene can become quite competitive with drumming groups sometimes competing for more than $30,000 in prizes (Kamloopa is one of several offering a $10,000 first prize this year.) This year more than $77,000 in prizes will be handed out to drumming groups and dancers.
“For the Kamloopa first place (for drumming) is $10,000, so it’s pretty competitive when you’re talking about that amount of money,” Daniels says. “There is a lot of travel all summer. Sometimes it’s literally dancing for your gas home.”
Daniels says many groups will travel from June through August to different pow wows and some participants will sew and mend while driving between pow wows. Most will camp on or near the pow wow grounds.
The Kamloops event draws the youth and elders of many First Nations groups in Western Canada and according to organizers spectators are often a large mix of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginals.
As a spectator many people do not understand the different styles of dance, a mix of traditional and more contemporary styles, and the different dress that can accompany it. Participants can spend hours or months on their outfits, which can feature elaborate headdresses and beadwork or more simple styles.
“There are many different styles,” Daniels says. “If you don’t know, you just come as a spectator, you may not realize.”
The Grand Entry, which features a spectacular display of drumming and dancing as each group makes their way into the central area, starts at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 1 and then goes again at noon and 7 p.m. on the Saturday and noon on Sunday. Events can easily run past midnight. All events take place at the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc Special Events Facility along Highway 5 just north of the South Thompson River.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014