Westside Daze is a gargantuan labour of love for the 15 members of its organizing committee.
They work year-round to organize the event and ensure that everyone in the city gets one great party.
“We have so much fun doing this for the city,” said Leah Thordarson president and administrator of Westside Daze.
What makes it such a unique event, she said, is that it’s one of the few completely cost-free family festivals in the Okanagan.
It’s fuelled by volunteerism and local businesses that chip in donations from $250 to $10,000 to allow the community enjoy the celebration.
One of the most notable donations this year came from Mission Hill winery. They kicked in a $10,000 donation to give the July 30 fireworks show an extra pop.
While that may be the showstopper, there’s much more to the weekend, including a parade, a dog agility contest, a number of concerts and all the food and vendors that the event’s 35,000 people have come to love.
“It has a really good flow,” Thordarson said. “This whole thing works the way we have set it up.
One of the contributors to the event is the Westbank Museum, which will have a trailer set up at the event that offers a little insight into the people who have made the region so special.
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“It’s the museum’s 40th anniversary so we will be promoting our pioneer families,” said Darci Ritchey, museum co-ordinator.
For example, there’s the Reece family.
“They were famous for Westbank Orchards, the business, which actually was destroyed in 2007 by arson,” said Ritchey.
They are also highlighting the Gormans who are famous for their mill.
“Fun fact about them, they also started with orcharding, but they started out during the worst year ever,” she said. “It was a terrible winter and all their crops were destroyed. So they decided, if they can’t grow apples, then we will make apple boxes.”
The Gellatleys and the Paynters will also be in focus.
While their stories are all varied and colourful, what ties them together is the land they called home, the way they shaped the economy and culture of the region.
“These families all immigrated here from Europe in search of what the Okanagan had to offer,” she said.
“It was hard work but very fruitful.”
Ritchey said that she expects the display to really engage people.
“The Westbank museum focuses a lot on people who used to live but it doesn’t actually focus on the people who live here,” she said.
“And people ask why the streets are named what they are so we wanted to give information.”
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