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PentictonNow road-tripped south Saturday, and for good reason.
In Oliver it was the brew-centric "Cask & Keg Festival," the middle leg of the huge three-day celebration known as "Wine Capital Weekend." The highlight? The mid-afternoon "Beer Olympics," a series of twisted relay races where sports meets costumes meets beer.
Meanwhile down in Osoyoos, the day was a little less boozy and a litttle less crowded and a little more artistic. It was the second annual Pride Arts Festival.
Our one regret? That the afternoon wasn't longer. Given what little we saw, we'd love to have taken in more of the talent and more of the welcoming experience.
We remember a performer named Leo D.E Johnson, a self-described "Trans Non-Binary, Black Scotian rock n' roll artist," jump on stage with an electric guitar and a bunch of effect pedals and proceed to kill it.
There he was, playing fully distorted guitar -- the type that’s typically accompanied by a pounding bass line and someone knocking the crap out of a drum kit -- and pouring out gorgeous vocal lines that were alternately fragile and brawny.
It was mesmerizing. And wonderfully interesting.
We remember someone in the audience, sitting on the grass and quietly sketching Johnson and other acts as they performed. The resulting drawings were exceptional.
Sadly, they were so nice in letting us shoot them and their sketchbook that we forgot to ask their name.
And we remember the final act of the festival, Forrest Mortifee, sitting alone on a chair in the centre of the stage as the daylight drained away, electrifying the crowd with his modern take on R&B. What a voice.
And we can’t forget the vibe. It was upbeat. It was enlightening.
Later we chatted with festival artist coordinator Keisha McLean of South Okanagan Similkameen Pride, who thanked the town of Osoyoos and called the event "beautiful."
"Wina Poliquin from Wide Arts National Association (WANA) and Heather (Adamson) with SOS Pride got together one day and said 'Hey, let's do it," she told us. "So we got funding from the town of Osoyoos and a bunch of other amazing sponsors in the first year, and we had great success.
"So we came back this year and it's been a beautiful day with amazing entertainers."
We asked MacLean why the event was important for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, beyond just being a cool festival.
"For people who are with the community, sometimes just existing is scary," she said. "And being who you are is othering and hard.
"So holding festivals where you can see people who look like you and who are talented and who are successfully existing and being who they are and out and proud, it can be life changing. For some, events like this is the only place they feel safe."
Event co-host for the second year running was Penticton-based educator Humaira Hamid, who called the event "essential."
"Opportunities like Pride Arts give us a chance to showcase folks from different parts of the province and different art styles who come together under one idea and ideal of everyone being able to live fulfilling and dignified lives in the public sphere, which a lot of folks may take for granted.
"I think what WANA and the SOS Pride Society have done in just two years is incredible. We've even heard stories from folks that it's changed lives. Just one afternoon."
Haley Regan of Penticton was "thrilled" to perform an Indigenous round dance for the early afternoon crowd and later sat with best buddy Daley Kelley, also of Penticton, watching the other acts do their thing.
"I grew up bisexual," she told us. "And when I grew up, I couldn’t find that community. And soon I just no longer felt safe. That’s one of the reasons I left Penticton at the age of 17.
"So now coming back seven years later, there's this boom of a community and I found my spot. It's so heart-warming."
We ended our day chatting with Kinfolk Nation, a two-person band with distant origins. Lady Dia hails from Zambia. Trophy was born in Uganda. These days, they're based quite a bit more locally, in Westbank.
"We came to share our heart and our music, and our stories," said Trophy, who explained that Kinfolk Nation dabbles in "new jazz."
"Stories are how we understand the world. We do it through what we call new jazz. And we call it that because we have no words to express this newness of our times."
"The new jazz is the sound of 'ubuntu,'" said Lady Dia. "It means 'I am because you are' and that's how we make our music."
Kinfolk Nation play multiple instruments and sing and speak their words. We wish we'd arrived early enough to listen to them perform.
"We're here also to dream with everybody that we can create a world where we can all be," said Trophy. "And that’s where the art and the music is, because we speak beyond the limitations of our mind and our fear."
For more on the Pride Arts Festival, turn here.