Spirit Festival in the works

Princeton's second annual celebration of First Nations culture is slated for April.

A dancer wears traditional red-and-black regalia at the Spirit Festival last year.

A dancer wears traditional red-and-black regalia at the Spirit Festival last year.

Princeton’s second annual Spirit Festival is slated for April this year and will be a three-day traditional powwow.

The festival hosted by the Princeton Arts Council and the Upper Similkameen Band will feature drum groups, dancers and singers from all over North America.

“The area where Princeton is now was a hugely significant area for the band, but with European colonization, there has been hardly any presence for the last 150 years,” said Brenda Gould with the Upper Similkameen Band.

“The powwow raises the profile of the band in the area.”

Around 30 bands will be participating from B.C.

“It’s a community get together and a time for everyone to share their stories,” said Vicky Jones with the Princeton Art Council.

A dancing contest will feature men’s traditional, men’s grass, women’s traditional, women’s jingle, team boys combined and team girls combined.

Oly Ben from the Upper Similkameen band has been chosen as the arena director, while John Terbasket from Lower Similkameen will be the MC.

The Princeton Museum will be holding an exhibit in the days leading up to the powwow. Regalia, powwow artifacts and information on the history of the festival will be on display.

Last year, the festival was only one day and held in February. But this year, Princeton has opted for a longer powwow because of the success last year.

“We’re working on building a relationship year-round,” Jones said.

“It’s a chance to see a different side of First Nations culture that we don’t get to see all the time.”

It was funded through the provincial government’s Olympic legacy fund, but the funding was cut this year.

The Princeton Arts Council is now looking at alternative funding options.

The Spirit Festival has outgrown its past location at the Riverside Centre and may move into the Princeton Secondary School gym.

Admission will be free again this year.