Langford singer-songwriter Brandyn James

Business, music mix at O’Siem festival

  • Feb. 8, 2011 8:00 p.m.

Langford hosts party and trade show at Eagle Ridge arena

Part business trade show, part cultural event — this weekend’s O’Siem Spirit Festival is about bringing people together on the West Shore.

The free festival takes over the Eagle Ridge Arena at Langford’s City Centre Park Feb. 11 to 13. More than 80 display booths will be set up by local businesses and community organizations, and an artisans market will span another 20 tables.

There will be a kids zone with face painting and activities for youngsters, while a stage will feature local musicians and artists, as well as workshops.

Gerry St. Cyr, facility operator at City Centre Park and John Selkirk of Capital Festivals, who organized the BC Day Festival last year, are organizing the event.

“I wanted to bring local businesses together, but with a unique spin,” St. Cyr said.

Selkirk said the event will build on the success of the Westhills B.C. Day festival he helped bring to City Centre Park last year.

“There is such a hunger for this kind of thing on the West Shore,” Selkirk said. “Whether you’re a developing artist or a new business, getting exposure is always the biggest challenge.”

The O’Siem festival is one of nearly 50 spirit events happening across the province this month with support for the Olympic legacy fund. Selkirk expects it will be the largest of the events.

“We’re planning to have 8,000 to 10,000 people through the doors this weekend,” he said.

The announcement came in mid-November that the province had dedicated $50,000 to the festival, leaving Selkirk and St. Cyr little time to get people onboard. But the community didn’t disappoint.

“I was overwhelmed by the number of people who wanted to be involved. It just kept snowballing. We completely sold out trade show tables.”

The trade show will have displays by BC Hydro, CRD parks, recreational clubs and businesses. The West Shore Chamber of Commerce will have several booths dedicated to the community initiatives it’s involved with, including Solar Colwood, the Hive, and Beyond the Blue Box recycling.

“People can come out and discover how much is going on in their community,” said Chamber president Dan Spinner. “We expect this will be the first of many trade shows to come.”

Some of the cultural highlights of the weekend include blues guitarist David Gogo closing out Friday night with three sets beginning at 7, 8 and 9 p.m. and Victoria’s 100-piece Gettn’ Higher Choir, squeezing onto the stage at noon Saturday.

Inuit folk singer Susan Aglukark is here from Ontario to be part of the festival. The event was named after her inspirational 1990s breakout single O’Siem, which is also a Coast Salish word meaning “a welcoming of honoured guests.”

Agulukark will take the stage Friday at 4 p.m. and Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Many young emerging artists will also be part of the festivities, including fiddler Sarah Tradewell, and singer-songwriters Karly Summers and Brandyn James.

For James, a Grade 10 Belmont secondary school student, the opportunity to get exposure alongside larger names is an important part of developing his career. He also played at the B.C. Day festival.

“I want to be a musician for life, so anytime I can play in front of a couple hundred people and get my name out, that’s not something I would pass up,” he said.

To see the full schedule of events visit The O’Siem festival runs Feb. 11, noon to 7 p.m.; Feb. 12, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Feb. 13, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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