Thompson Valley Stars

Four days of fun, laughter and new or renewed friendships were experienced recently by nine Kamloops area dancers at the 10th Annual Peachfest Square Dance Festival in Penticton.  One of many overall Peachfest attractions, the square and round dance Festival, ran August 7th through 10th. The final dance on the Saturday evening was enjoyed by 225 dancers from throughout B.C., other Western provinces and the Northwestern U.S.

For those accomplished in today’s modern style of square dancing and its counterpart, round dancing (choreographed ballroom dancing), the Festival is a mecca of fun activity.

One notable if not wild event is the “Aquaducks” on the Saturday afternoon. The dancers step into Okanagan Lake, just offshore, and tread through the water with considerable effort. “I tried to do all the square dance moves with the other dancers but, depending on how deep you are in the lake, you can’t move very fast” said Jan McLaughlin of Kamloops, exclaiming “at times I just laughed and splashed others as they splashed me.”

The Kamloops participants at the Festival included Carol& Gary Bacon, Jim Flack, Marg Montalbetti, Jan McLaughlin, Sandy & Merv Meyer and Donna & Ivan Sambolec. Recalling the fun, Carol Bacon said “looking around the beautiful dance hall, I was impressed by the smiles on everyone’s face – they were out getting exercise but having so much fun at the same time.” She continued “as well as seeing old friends who have been dancing for many years, it’s so refreshing to see the younger dancers taking part.”

Gary Bacon beamed “I was captivated with the Brendzy family of entertainers from Burnaby. Dad Ray Brendzy was accompanied by daughter Caitlyn & son Nicholas and they did an amazing job of calling to a crowded floor of dancers.”

The Festival featured casual weekday morning dancing Thursday and Friday and a nightly dance on each of the four days. The dance program schedules square dance callers and round dance cuers from various clubs, taking turns on the stage. Sandy & Merv Meyer of Kamloops were among those from far and wide, all of whom volunteer their time to participate.

Marg Montalbetti enthused “The highlight of ‘Peachfest’ for me was the opportunity to dance with friends to such a variety of talented callers, especially ‘Penticton’s Very Own’ and the ‘BC Boys’.” Teamed up with ‘Penticton’s Very Own’ (Dustin McGifford, Ralph Halsall & Barry Sjolin) were two of the ‘BC Boys’ (Steve Edlund & Ray Brendzy from the Lower Mainland). The quintet sang out calls to the tune “Rocky Mountain Music.”

Not to be forgotten were the pre-teens and teens, many from square dance families, who had their own special “Teen Dance” on Friday afternoon. Nicholas Brendzy, the young caller from Burnaby, was the emcee. Donna Sambolec commented “It’s nice to hear how the younger callers’ voices are developing each year – Krista Ferguson, Caitlyn & Nicolas Brendzy and Elizabeth Baird – three of whom we’ve known since they were born.”

Donna went on to say “next month will be the 30th anniversary of my first square dance lesson with Ken & Sally Crisp of the Swinging Singles from Burnaby.” Ken Crisp was one of many callers present at the Festival.

Square dancing in Penticton in August is a long-standing recreation that once drew thousands to dance on an outdoor floor at King’s Park. This was the 60th year of summer dancing in Penticton.

Kamloops area residents, too, can dance one day at the Penticton Festival by learning today’s “modern” style of square dancing this Fall. The Kamloops Square Dancers club presents two free new dancer sessions, September 12 & 19, with no commitment and no obligation, at 7:30 pm in the Desert Gardens Community Centre, followed by 10 more fun sessions by registration.

For more information, including new dancer sessions starting in the Fall, call 250-376-5636, or email:

The benefits of the recreation can be explored at:


Also, see the online video:

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