The Lytton River Festival runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 1 and features more than 30 acts and activities. Here, Shirley James, a respected River Festival advocate, enjoys a street performance by the AcroFire group. This year’s festival pays tribute to Shirley James, who passed away in the past year. (Submitted photo)

Comedy, chicken poop and dancing at Lytton Festival

This year’s festival will honour longtime supporter Shirley James

Cutting-edge comedy, chicken-poop bingo, street dancing and plenty more is coming to Lytton this summer.

The Lytton River Festival — running from Friday, Aug. 30 to Sunday, Sept. 1 — is a celebration of the people and cultures of British Columbia’s Thompson and Fraser Rivers.

And this year’s festival will feature one of Canada’s funniest comedians, in addition to about 30 acts and events during its three-day street run. Don Burnstick, a member of the Alexander First Nation reserve located near Edmonton, has a sharp sense of humour, honed by living on the streets of Edmonton before becoming sober and moving into comedy.

“What I do is, I basically hold the mirror up on stage about our lives, all the funny things we have endured in our lives,” Burnstick said in a recent interview with the CBC. “I talk about those things.”

“We have a strong mix of all Lytton cultures represented at the festival,” says festival secretary and event coordinator Nonie McCann. The Lytton First Nation is a partner in the event.

“From the Shmameet Youth Drum Circle opening the festival each day, to Lil’wat Indigenous musicians, to street dancing with mainstream bands and even chicken poop bingo, we have something for everyone at the festival and everyone is welcome,” McCann says.

There are multiple First Nations events throughout the weekend, including youth hand-drumming, First Nations artists’ displays and workshops, performances by the Spiritual Warriors, an interactive drum workshop with Soaring Spirit, Ritchie and the Fendermen, and more.

Festival-goers can even try making traditional crafts under the instruction of local First Nations Knowledge Keepers.

For children there is face painting, help making dream catchers, beading, painting, storytelling, rock-wall climbing, the bouncy slide, Mr. Bubbles the Clown and other activities.

One of Saturday’s highlights is the opportunity to ‘Dunk a Cop’ in the dunk tank, and help raise funds for a local animal rescue fund.

Festival organizers want people to know that this year’s event pays tribute to one of their longtime supporters who passed away over the last year.

“Shirley James was always a strong advocate for the River Festival,” they say in a press release. “Her joy and enthusiasm radiated through her smile and laughter. For many years Shirley contributed to our Sunday mini powwow. She was always happy, cheerful and ready to assist during the events in whatever way she was needed. Shirley loved River Festival and looked forward to seeing her many friends. She loved the evening music and dancing to the bands. We will surely miss this gentle and kind spirit and hope she looks down on this year’s celebration with happiness.”

Local rafting companies are also offering whitewater rafting trips on the Thompson River.

Other activities include multiple musicians and street dances Friday and Saturday evening, featuring multiple bands and performers. There will be many children’s activities, including a ‘learn-to-kayak’ session in the Lytton pool, as well as the Two Rivers Farmers’ Market on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The days are filled with street performers, a dog show and Pooch Parade, dinners, street food, pancake breakfasts and a community potluck on Sunday evening.

The weekend is also a good time to check out the Lytton Museum and Lytton Chinese History Museum.

Head to www.riverfestival.ca for complete times and details.

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