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Inaugural Lake Country Children's Festival couldn't have gone any better

Lake Country cultural development coordinator hits home run with first event out of the gates, a new children's festival held Saturday
Cash shows off the turban he is wearing from the Intercultural Society of the Central Okanagan. It was one of the booths at the inaugural Lake Country Indoor Children's Festival on Saturday.

Heading into the inaugural Lake Country Indoor Children's Festival presented by TD, organizer Ryan Donn was hopeful it would be well-received in the community.

So when the doors opened on Saturday morning at the Lake Country Community Complex at George Elliot school and people started to pour into the festival, it wasn't long before he knew the event was one he would continue as an annual one in Lake Country.

More than 1,500 people attended the indoor festival on Saturday, a four hour, multi vendor event that saw almost every table run out of supplies and had organizers, sponsors and families all looking forward to next year.

"It went perfectly, it couldn't have gone any better," said Donn, the cultural development coordinator at the District of Lake Country. "The community came out in droves. It was phenomenal."

The event featured 40 activity centres set up throughout the community complex as the festival utilized the atrium at George Elliot along with the theatre, the community gym and an outdoor area where firefighters allowed kids the ability to work a fire hose and dress in firefighting gear.

"The space has only really been utilized that way for ArtWalk," said Donn of the unique setting of the community complex, a shared use facility inside George Elliot. "It all worked so well together. People could have two to five minute experiences at each of the booths and people love that these days, the ability to sample. I'll be trying to think how we can take this model that ArtWalk has used successfully all these years and use it to connect different segments of the community."

Among the booths that attracted a lot of attention and really spoke to an accepting community was one set-up by the Intercultural Society of the Central Okanagan, which had a "try a turban" booth set up where people could try on the traditional religious headwear worn by the Sikh community.

Donn said the booth was quiet at the start of the event but aside from the first few moments, it had a large line with people interested in trying on a turban.

"It just speaks to an accepting community," he said. "When we talk about cultural development that was it. It just shows a level of multi cultural respect and that's what I heard from people. That was probably the most unique component of the festival. People were really touched and enjoyed seeing that."

Donn said the event will become an annual fixture in Lake Country and said he already had title sponsor TD commit to being involved next year. He said adding the indoor children's festival early in the year to Lake Country made sense for the community and also for others around the Central Okanagan who also came to Lake Country to check it out.

"I think there was a need in the community for an indoors family event in the off season," he said. "There has been a growing need for a new children's festival in the Central Okanagan and the indoor component was huge for us."

Donn said he is working on another new event for Lake Country, an agricultural fall fair that will likely debut in the fall of 2017.