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Swinging like it’s 1998: Pentastic Jazz Festival celebrates 25 years in Penticton

Festival brings ‘world-class entertainment’ to the Okanagan and continues through Sunday
Le Dixie Band from Montreal perform at the 25th edition of the Pentastic Jazz and Music Festival inside the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre on Sept. 9, 2023. (Logan Lockhart- Western News)

There are just some things that may never change.

One of those things appears to be the Pentastic Jazz Festival and its knack for getting people up and dancing.

At least that’s how Michael Campbell sees it, who says the event brings just as much energy to music lovers in the city today as it did when he started it in the 1990s.

“I really do love it and even though some of the music has changed, the energy has always been there,” said Campbell, as he welcomed back nine bands from across the globe to Penticton’s Pentastic Hot Jazz and Music Festival on Saturday, Sept. 9.

Campbell’s love for music, his wife’s desire to extend Penticton’s “high season” past Labour Day and public demand are among the things that helped sparked the festival’s inaugural event in the mid-1990s.

The festival typically brings in more than 1,200 people to the city for the weekend.

“It’s been very successful so far this year,” Campbell said.

Returning acts from 2022 were joined by bands that hadn’t been featured at the Penticton festival in almost 10 years.

Montreal-based Le Dixie Band, for instance, was featured at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre on Saturday, for the first time in nine years.

“One of my favourite parts of the festival is the camaraderie that we enjoy with the bands,” Campbell said. “Seeing them back was great.”

It’s also the more than 100 volunteers that Campbell thinks about, including those who have dedicated their time to help with the event since Day No. 1.

“There’s one volunteer who was with was during the first year, and she showed me the shirt we gave her from that festival,” he recalled. “Very cool.”

Campbell says that by the late 1990s, the festival had carved out its core audience, as well as found its way with recruiting high-level entertainment to perform.

“We want to provide world-class entertainment at an affordable price,” he said.

The festival is celebrating 25 years in Penticton this weekend.

Campbell says the festival donated several dozens of tickets to first responders across the community.

There are nine bands set to perform at four different city venues through Sunday, Sept. 10.

Tickets for Sunday’s entertainment can be found here.

READ MORE: Dragonboaters hit Skaha Lake for beloved Penticton festival


About the Author: Logan Lockhart

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