Events

Hilly Half Marathon in Merritt, BC

Scenery in the Nicola Valley Can’t be Beat

“The views are worth every bit of the challenge” –Andrea

Running in Merritt is the subject of my first ever blog.  Mary Jorgensen,  as a new comer to Merritt BC Canada, was disappointed by the fact that there wasn’t a run in Merritt so she took the bull by the horns, got a small band of like minded people together, and the Merritt Country Run was born.

They’re off and running in Merritt, BC, Canada

The Merritt Country Run provides four different distances. Namely,” 2Xtrack(800M)”, 5K, 10K and the 1/2 Marathon.  Of all the distances the 1/2 Marathon is the ultimate “running in Merritt” experience.  Whereas runs on the Stanley Park Sea Wall are flat and easy, this run is hilly and really tests your endurance. While the route may be hilly our participants say: 

“The views are worth every bit of the challenge” –Andrea 

The Views While Running in Merritt, BC

The race starts at Voght Park, with the first part of the journey travelling beside the Coldwater River.  However, after the first kilometer you meet your first challenging hill.  This part of the run travels North East and gives you views out over the City’s golf course and the grasslands of the southern interior.  If you have ever seen a wrinkle dog then you get the idea of what the grasslands look like.

View of Golf Course and Grasslands

View of Golf Course and Grasslands

The good thing is that when you reach the top of Juniper Hill you have over 8 kilometers before the next one! Your reward at the top of the hill is running through the Bench Subdivision.  The fragrance of the pines as you run along Mountain Way screams out “Summer Vacation.”

While I could go on about the views, I will only cover three more spots.  When you travel along the City’s Truck Route you get to see the booming metropolis  of Merritt, BC.  Secondly, when you are running out along Lindley Creek Road you get a magnificent view of the Nicola River as it flows down to the Fraser River at Spences Bridge.  Finally, your last leg borders the Coldwater  River where the babbling sounds of the river sooth your soul as you roll to the finish line back at Voght Park. 

Merritt Country Run

The Booming Metropolis of Merritt

Merritt Country Run

The Home Stretch beside the Coldwater River

Come for the Running in Merritt enjoy the Nicola Valley

The temperature can be warm at this time of year so we start the half marathon at 8:00AM.  If you are coming from out of town it is best to come the day before.  You have many choices of accommodation from first class hotels, motels, B&B’s and of course camping.

To get full service camping you need to choose the in town sites of Claybanks RV or Moon Shadows RV Park.    Choosing Monk Park provides you with all the comforts of a Provincial Campground on the shores of beautiful Nicola Lake.  Alternatively, if you are into more rustic, Kane Valley and Lundbom Lake provide lakeside camping with minimal fan fare.

If this is not your year to attempt running in Merritt then remember that the Country Run is always the second Sunday in June.  You don’t have to wait for the run to enjoy Merritt.  Go to Experience Nicola Valley to get the scoop on all the exciting things to do in the Nicola Valley.  After all, we are just a hop skip and jump away from Vancouver (3 hours), an hour + from the Okanagan and 45 minutes from Kamloops.

There will be more news on the Running in Merritt in the coming future so stay tuned.

Merritt Country Run in the Nicola Valley

Merritt BC Canada Murals

Merritt Murals in the Nicola Valley

Country Music Band – Lonestar

“I’m already there,” Lonestar Country Music Lyrics

The Merritt BC Murals is proud to feature the country music band Lonestar. It is a result of the band having one of the country music murals in Merritt BC Canada. First, before we move on, I would like to thank you for the QR download.  Secondly, I am excited to share their story. 

Tania Stewart (Experience Nicola Valley) / Copyright 2019 ©Canadian Country Music Heritage Society / Painted by Michelle Loughery

Whats In A Name – Lonestar

Lonestar hails from Texas, USA. Hence why the country music band first decided to name their band “Texassee”, after their home state. But, soon later, they quickly changed the name to Lonestar. 

The Early Years Of Lonestar

Early on in the band’s career, their sound was a mixture of honky-tonk and neo-traditional country influences. Consequently, Lonestar has compared their own debut album to the sounds of Merle Haggard and George Jones. However, soon later, their country music shifted towards a country pop sound with strong melodies and rich vocals. 

Music Awards Before The Merritt Murals

As a result of their sound, they released their self-titled debut album in 1995. After that their first single from the album, “Tequila Talkin'” reached No. 8 on the Billboard Charts. Above all, their proudest moment,  the album produced the group’s first No. 1 song, “No News”. 

Likewise 1999 Keeps Bringing Success

In 1999 they won the ACM Single of The Year for “Amazed”.  That was quickly followed up in 2001 with the CMA “Vocal Group of the Year”. Then came the 2017 Peoples Choice Award for “Favourite Country Group”. After that, and most impressively, they amassed sales in excess of ten million albums. 

Most Recognized Country Music Songs

For instance Lonestars most recognized songs include Amazed, Tequila Talkin’ , No News, I’m Already There, My Front Porch Looking In, What About Now, Walking In Memphis, Mr. Mom, Lets Be Us Again, as well as Every Little Thing She Does.

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo Too

In Short  – The Band Rocks It

The original 5 band members first began touring and playing together in Nashville in 1993. And by 1994 they were signed by BNA Records. Certainly a big moment for them.  The band included members Richie McDonald, John Rich, Dean Sams, Michael Britt, as well as, Keech Rainwater.

Richie Vance McDonald

Feb 6, 1962 · Lubbock, TX, USA.  Country music singer/songwriter, as well as, the lead singer from 1998 until his departure in 2007. Also co-wrote several of the band’s singles, and sang lead on all but one of them. Richie rejoined the band in 2011.  

John Rich

Jan 7, 1974, Amarillo, TX.  From 1992 to 1998 John was a member of the band. He played bass guitar and on some songs he was the lead vocalist. After departing from the band, Rich embarked on a solo career with BNA Records.  

Dean Sams

Aug 3,1966. Garland, TX, USA .  Keyboards & backing vocals. Also an actor and composer, known for “Maybe Someday”,” Cedar Cove” and “Static”.

Michael Wayne Britt

June 15, 1966. Fort Worth, Texas, USA. Lead guitar & backing vocals. Michael, the actor, also shared his talents on the television hit daytime series,” Days of Our Lives”,  as well as,  a stint as a comedian (2002).  

Keech Rainwater

January 24, 1963. Plano, Texas, USA. Randy Keech Rainwater plays the drums. Also, did a stint as an actor on “Days of Our Lives” and performed, ” The Song that Changed My Life”(2012).

Cody Collins

Further more Cody Collins joined the group in September 2007.  

As A Matter Of Fact

  • First, both McDonald and Britt  appeared on ” Wheel of Fortune”  recorded at the Grand Ole Opry house in Nashville, incidentally  both winning the bonus round.
  • In addition they respectively donated $61,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and $59,350 for Adopt-a-Platoon.

Lonestar Is More Than Country Music

  • Third, the group also appeared on The Price Is Right, June 17, 2010. They performed the show’s theme song, along with a sample of songs from” Party Heard Around the World”.
  • After that Richie, Britt and Rainwater were guest stars on “Honkey Tonk Central” 2014. 

Merritt Country Music Fest 

Because Lonestar performed at the Merritt Country Music Fest in 2005 (now called the Rockin’ River Music Fest) we know them well. Not to mention that the band’s amazing harmony, beautiful lyrics, and upbeat sound attracted country music fans from around the world to our community of Merritt.

Lonestar sums it up best ” True country music isn’t about music that the fans like, it’s about playing what’s in your heart and soul.” 

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Country Music Capital of Canada

As of  January of 2009, the CCMA signed an agreement with the Merritt Walk of Stars to establish a physical venue in Merritt BC celebrating Canadian country music. What we see today, as a result of this agreement, is a beautiful venue with a culmination of plaques, artifacts and exhibits from inductees of the past, present and future.

Downtown Merritt Murals

Downtown Merritt provides visitors a unique experience when exploring our community. Certainly, there are the murals. The Merritt Mural Project was created in 2005. The Merritt BC Murals were part of a successful program called, the “Merritt Youth Mural Project”. A project designed for working with local young artists and “ youth at risk”. Merritt Murals were painted by muralist Michelle Loughery. 

Then follow up your sightseeing experience by browsing some of our local shops, cafes, historical pubs, as well as, Merritt’s Signature Attraction, the Country Music Hall of Fame

In Short Come and Visit Merritt BC

Further more we encourage you to check out some of other murals in town too. Go ahead and download your favorite country music stars using the QR codes. Not to mention this also includes the Walk of Stars. Why? Because they too have QR codes. 

Moreover There Is More … 

Moreover feel free to learn more about Lonestar online at any of the other great pages including their website,  and Facebook page

Merritt BC Canada Mural Digital Walking Tour

 

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame

Experience Nicola Valley Blog

Blog

Experience Nicola Valley

Travel Website

Merritt BC Non-Profits  

Community Futures Engagement Fair 2019, a real success!

 

“It was a lively, colorful, noisy-with-talk event…”

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Conayt Friendship Society

Merritt BC Non-Profits are like non-profits everywhere…contributing to the vitality of their community! These essential groups provide the good works and the enjoyment that cities, towns, and villages need and want. As my partner always said in his coffee paper, the Merritt Morning Mirror, “Have some fun, do some good!”

Last weekend, Community Futures Nicola Valley put on a great event showcasing the Merritt BC Non-Profits. The Nicola Valley has a lot of non-profit groups and the Civic Center was full of tables, volunteers, posters, pamphlets and sign up sheets…. 

Non Profits depend on volunteers….

Non-Profits depend on volunteers, the heart-blood of any organization. And that March Saturday was a congregation of well-doing individuals, committed to providing good works, and fun to young and old. General organizations and specific, from the Chamber of Commerce, to the Curling Club, to the Old Time Fiddlers, were represented at this successful event by dedicated volunteers.

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Merritt Dance Society

 

What Merritt BC Non-Profit group do you belong to?

Almost everyone I know belongs to one, or more, of the Merritt BC Non-Profits. So the Civic Center was full of friends and colleagues, all dispensing info and enticing passers-by to be a part of their organization.

I did my part at the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council tables, helping with set up. And I did my best to stay put at the table and tell people what we are up to and wave membership forms at potential participants. And as I wandered myself, I gathered info and stories from the reps at the tables. 

There were groups there I had heard of, but hadn’t chatted with. And groups I have participated with since I moved to town with my just-starting family in 1979!

I know a lot of these groups…

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Merritt Centennials Hockey

So I found that I know a lot of these groups, and the volunteers who run them and their events.

I attend Community Futures events. I am a Patreon for the Love to Dance Academy and their organization the Merritt Dance Society. The Old Time Fiddlers’ get-togethers at the Seniors Center get my support with announcements and posters. I encourage friends to spectate and cheer for the Centennials Hockey Team. I participate in Chamber of Commerce Friday Night Markets, send interested beginning entrepreneurs to CFNV, give kudos and items to the local Nicola Health Care Auxiliary.  Groups like the Search and Rescue, Scw’exmx Family Services, Nicola Valley Food bank, and the Citizens Patrol do so much good in the community! 

I bought my membership for the Canadian Country Music Heritage Society there, one of my favorite non-profits in the community. I have loved volunteering at and supporting the Country Music Hall of Fame over the years.

While I was wandering, taking photos for my personal no-profit endeavor, Creative Community, I was impressed with the time and energy all the groups took with their displays. Several groups even had technology set up…TV’s displaying videos and slide presentations, like the beautiful, so-local, and very-worthwhile Nicola Valley Fall Fair Association.

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Nicola Valley Fall Fair Association

Bricks for Sale…

Let’s stop for a moment here and let you know, if you don’t already – the Nicola Valley Fall Fair Association is fundraising for an Infrastructure and Washroom Facility. This is a much-needed essential for this organization, and for the whole town! I would like to encourage all of us to get behind this fundraiser, and look after the basic needs of all the visitors, local and not, attending one of the oldest and most beloved events in our community, and in so many rural communities. 

(A bracketed appeal…

A while back I attended a Chamber of Commerce Grant Writing Workshop, and really enjoyed being in the room with other groups detailing their needs in a grant writing session. From requests for bathroom facilities to setting up programs for kids with special needs, to support for young musicians and artists I was impressed with the dedication of these volunteers to our community well-being.

That workshop and this Community Futures Community Engagement Fair offered insight into the complex and worthwhile projects our community is willing to dedicate their time to and are willing to work on.

But let me say that groups in our community that are working to provide basic necessities like a place to pee, is needed as much as, OR MORE THAN (or at least BEFORE) the enhanced events and activities we are all working on. We can’t invite people to our events without providing the basics. So, if you hear of a group asking for bathroom facilities, perk up your ears and reach for your wallet.

Thank you. This has been a public service announcement…or a-pee-l.)

For this Fall Fair Association worthy fundraiser… buy a brick for $10! Call 250-378-7270

 

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Networking at the Community Engagement Fair

Merritt BC Non-Profits Opportunity to Network!

It was a lively, colorful, noisy-with-talk event, and afterward the feedback about it was…great! A GREAT opportunity, not just to inform and invite the general public to participate in the non-profits, but to network and exchange possibilities with like-minded groups populating the room at the Civic Center. 

After cruising the room, taking photos, enjoying the chats, listening to the music by the Community Choir, the Old Time Fiddlers, the Strings Plus, and watching the dancers from Love to Dance, I settled in at the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council table, the non-profit where I spend most of my volunteer hours. 

NVCAC’s Nicola Valley Talent Network project…more info coming!

We talked to lots of people about our Nicola Valley Talent Network project. So exciting! Got a talent? Are you an artist? A musician? A performing artist? Into theater? Or aspiring…? Get in touch with us at nvcac.talent@gmail.com 

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Nicola Valley Community Arts Council

By the way, at the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council’s home, at the old Courthouse, 1840 Nicola Avenue we have basic facilities. Come and visit us there! We are busy reaching out to the community for interaction, memberships from individuals, groups, and businesses at the Courthouse, and also at events like the Community Futures Community Engagement Fair

  • Visit us at the Courthouse Arts Gallery! Thursday to Saturday 12-6pm
  • Want to put on an art show? (Booking almost a year ahead!) Email nicolavalleyartsgallery@gmail.com
  • Got an arts program you want to develop? Email nicolavalleyartscouncil@gmail.com
  • Want to know more about the local Arts Council? Visit our website!
  • Want to Plan and Relax with creativity? Tuesday mornings with me (Jano) at the old Courthouse. Call 250-315-3437
  • Visit my Creative Community facebook page.

Have a creative, satisfying day! 

Your Arts and Culture…and Non-Profits fan Blogger, Jano Howarth

Let’s get out there and…. Have Some Fun, Do Some Good!

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Jen from Creature Comforts and Mischelle for Nordic Ski Club, networking

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Nicola Valley Search and Rescue

Community Futures Nicola Valley

 

Nicola Valley Women’s Fair, Merritt, BC

A place for women to get together with friends and family.

“A Place to forget all the pressure and responsibilities at home and have a day to unwind.” Ellen Miller

Nicola Valley Women’s Fair is a wonderful idea in bringing people and different vendors together. Therefore, people will have a chance to see the different businesses in the community all in one place.

Curious as to how the Nicola Valley Women’s Fair came about, I decided to do an interview with Ellen Miller from Miller’s Farm. Ellen is the brains and brawn behind the making of the first Nicola Valley Women’s Fair come about.

Miller's Farm Lower Nicola BC

Miller’s Farm in Lower Nicola BC photo credit Ellen Miller

(MB) I understand that this is the first Nicola Valley Women’s Fair?

(Ellen Miller) Yes, this is the first Nicola Valley Women’s Fair.

(MB) What made you decide to put on a women’s fair?

(Ellen Miller)  I was involved with the Business & Professional Women’s Group (BPW) in the Fraser Valley in the past. BPW promotes the rights of women across the world as well as encourages young women to be the best they can be. They are advocates for health, safety, and learning opportunities of women and mentor wherever they can. I would like to see more opportunities here in Merritt for women to be able to promote themselves and their business or ideas.

(MB) And can you tell us what the Nicola Valley women’s fair all about?

(Ellen Miller) The Nicola Valley Women’s Fair is a day for women to get together with their friends, family, workplace companions and just relax and take a day to pamper themselves. To forget all the pressure and responsibilities at home and have a day to unwind.

Sounds so exciting. Hope you are all just as excited as me.

(MB) What can we expect to see at the Nicola Valley women’s fair?

(Ellen Miller) At the Women’s Fair you can expect to see vendors representing health, beauty, fitness, clothing, jewelry, financial advice, home decor, flowers and so much more.

(MB) Did you organize and put on this women’s fair or is it affiliated with something else?

(Ellen Miller) I organized the women’s fair on my own. I love planning events and then watch as people enjoy them.

If you want to get involved in the women’s fair contact Ellen Miller at Miller’s Farm

(MB) When is the Nicola Valley women’s fair.

(Ellen Miller) The fair is on March 30th 2019 from 10 am to 4 pm.

(MB) How much is it to attend the Fair?

(Ellen Miller) Admission is by donation to the Nicola Valley Food Bank.

(MB) Where will the Nicola valley women’s fair be held?

(Ellen Miller) The Nicola Valley Women’s Fair is being held at the Merritt Civic Center at  1950 Mamette Ave, Merritt, BC V1K 1R6

Merritt BC Civic Center

Front of the Merritt Civic Center Merritt, BC

(MB) Will there be food at the fair?

(Ellen Miller) Yes, Mary’s Catering will be running the kitchen to provide everyone with some delicious treats.

food catering corner cafe

Mary’s Corner Cafe and Catering. Photo credit Mary’s Corner Cafe and Catering.

(MB) I understand you have quite a few vendors for the first Women’s Fair. Can you tell us who they are?

(Ellen Miller) We have 31 vendors coming to the fair along with four guest speakers.

Opening Remarks

Our very own Mayor Linda Brown and MLA Jacquie Tegart will be onsite at 10 am to give the opening remarks for this great event.

Guest Speakers  at the Nicola Valley Women’s Fair include

Friday March 29th

Please join us. RCMP representative Tracy Dunsmore along with Tracy Auclair from Merritt Victim Services will be on site to speak about Domestic Violence. Room 4 at the Civic Center from 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm.

Saturday March 30th

11 am

Morgan Sparrow – Tips and tricks for a healthy lifestyle. Morgan discovered her passion for inspiring healthy living at a young age. She views health very important as a whole and finds purpose and passion impacting others in all aspects of their wellness. She is passionate about inspiring other women to live their best lives and empowering them to become capable of achieving all goals and dreams.

Morgan Sparrow

Photo credit Morgan Sparrow

12 noon

Leslee Lucy – Sunlife Financial – Planning your finances. Leslee is a certified Financial Planner with 20 years of experience with Sunlife Financial. 

“I live and work in Merritt, B.C. – You don’t plan your finances  – you plan your life. Whether by choice or circumstance, more and more women are taking charge of their money. I will give you a few simple steps to planning your finances and what to look for in a financial planner. If you don’t take care of your self – who will?” Leslee Lucy

Sunlife Financial Investing Merritt BC

Photo credit Sunlife Financial

1 pm

Joleen Morrison – Benefits of growing a garden. Joleen is no stranger to gardeners of Merritt and will be happy to tell you the health benefits of gardening. She is a graduate of U.N.B.C. with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Natural Resource Management, wildlife and fisheries. 

benefits gardening healthy lifestyle merritt bc

Photo Credit Ellen Miller

2 pm

Sheri Simson – Keen Fit Walking Poles – How to be fit! Sheri is a Health and Fitness Ambassador. She will be sharing with us how by just “Walking” she lost over 50 lbs. Sheri will also be demonstrating the secret techniques she uses to tone and sculpt her arms, stomach and back.  Want to know how 30 min can make a difference? Sheri will also be talking about that, so you don’t want to miss out.

Sheri Simson Health and Fitness Ambassador

Photo Credit Sheri Simson

Here are some of the Vendors that will be in attendance.

Sandy Labermeyer – Ki Essentials, Reflexology, Ellen Miller – Fused Glass, Jacquie Hall -Scentsy, Sue Thomas – Juice Plus

fused glass womens fair Miller's Farm

Fused glass from Miller’s Farm. Photo credit Miller’s Farm

Amy Douthwright – Custom made Tees, tank tops, baby items, Alycia Kempf – Seacret, Molly Toodlican – Watkins, Kathleen Courtoreille – Kathy’s Epicure Selections, Nicole Neufeld – Photography, Michelle Bacon – Bear Essential Apparel, Jamara Joyal – Massage Therapy, Megan – Akasa Yoga Studio

bath bombs soap lotions

Bath bombs, soap, lotions and more. You won’t be disappointed. Photo Credit B’s Bath

And a few more vendors

Pauline Ouellet – Hand Painted Jewelry, Julia Ahlin – Banana Bellem, N.V.I.T., Dawn Demuriak – Silk Flower Designs, Planet Women Ladies Fitness, N.V. Paddleboard, Primerica Financial, Vicki’s Petals and Flowers, B’s Bath products,  Florine Walkem – Native Arts, Deadman Valley Botanicals, Sara Vigh – Mortage Specialist, 31 Gifts,  T.O.P.S., Susan Riddle – Home Decor, Double Take Beauty Bar, Young Living Essential Oils.   

epicure selections spices women's fair

Spices from Epicure Selections. Photo credit Kathy’s Epicure Selections.

I have one more question.

(MB) Do you plan on having a Nicola Valley women’s fair every year?

(Ellen Miller) I plan on making this an annual event. There are already have ideas for next year to increase the speakers, provide mini learning experiences and add more categories – ie: wedding planners, mobile clothing vendors, resource information etc. I don’t want the event to take on the role of a craft fair. It needs to be a day of learning, having access to programs and resources available in this area, pampering and relaxing.

In Conclusion

Thank you Ellen Miller for speaking with me about this wonderful event.

The Nicola Valley Women’s Show is coming up on March 30th, at the Merritt Civic Center from 10-4. You won’t want to miss this! Lots to see and learn. I am really looking forward to this event and hope to see a lot of familiar and new faces.

If you are a vendor, we would love it if you would please share the link to your face book or website. Share this blog on your page will give people a chance to see where you will be on March 30th.

If you would like to see more blogs about Merritt and the Nicola Valley please follow me or one of our other bloggers at Experience Nicola Valley

Nicola Valley Women’s Fair

Art and Sound

Art of Sound-Nicola Valley Arts Gallery Show 

“Even the art on the wall seems filled with sound and music!” 

What a show! Come and see! 25 artists and musicians from the Nicola Valley have created and contributed sound-themed

Art of Sound

“Is this a Grandma Phone? by Michelle Lonsdale

paintings, sketches, dioramas, handmade instruments, and more…

For the month of February 2019, the Courthouse Arts Gallery is ringing with the sounds of singing bowls, Djembe drums, vinyl records, wooden flutes, Leonard George rattles, handmade stringed instruments, and original songs.

Even the art on the wall seems filled with sound and music!

Artists and musicians get creative!

We sent out the call to artists for the February Community Show, and received an interested and enthusiastic response!

Quietude

Evelyn Armstrong and Lin Butler Buchanan submitted black, white, and grey photos of nature – ice and stone, quiet and running water. Angelina Brooymans brought in photos of a grand piano and guitar playing. People are stopping at her photo of the piano at the Murray Church and reminiscing.

Jean Kiegerl’s black and white oil of quiet trees is a piece for reflection.

Art of Sound

Jean Kiegerl

Nancy Ellingsen brought in two reflective works, in dark tones – one an abstract and one I can’t stop looking at with its moody rainbow of colours.

Shirley Lindgren’s guzheng instrument is on display, and she is allowing people to try it, play it. Shirley also has contributed several of her peaceful nature photographs.

Lively Music!

There are lots of submissions that suggest joyful and lively music, like the “Jazz in the Attic” collection, created in an afternoon of fun and creativity at the gallery months ago.

And Shirley Reynold’s “Crescendo” sets a lively tone.

These paintings are surrounded by instruments available for playing sounds and music: rattles, chimes, wind chimes, bells, and claves.

Gale Simpson contributed her collection of brass singing bowls. Jane Bartle allowed us to display, and try, two of her flutes and a gorgeous crystal singing bowl.

Vicki Strom gathered several instruments for us, including an impressive steel drum from Kindred Spirits Steel Drums, in

Art of Sound

Vicki Strom and Shirley Lindgren’s interactive instruments

Robert’s Creek. This company makes the drums, with different scales, colours, and  prices. Their motto is Creating Vitality Through Sound. Very interesting website showing the drums made to different scales. Creative BC! And the shiny green steel drum is a hit at our Art of Sound show.

Original Music

Besides the original music being played as instruments are tried out, we have two of our local Nicola Valley songs displayed on sheet music (Thanks, Jane!).

Harley Carmen has set up an interactive display with his song and lyrics “Emmanuelle”. Kim Vizi-Carmen’s beautiful Maya Woman is displayed with Harley’s music.

We have CD’s from Harley Carmen and Quade Lindgren. Quade also contributed a guitar, and stands for display and was a great help with the set up of the show.

Handmade Instruments

Artist Mordichai of Red Blue Dreams, created a model of instruments that can easily be made at home, accompanied by instructions to do so, and quotes about music and sound, a favourite display of the children coming to see the show.

Local 1st Nations artist, Leonard George has created carved and painted wood rattles, all different, almost all available for sale. An eagle, a medicine wheel, a feather, a must-see!

Art of Sound

Ernie Pawliuk guitar

We are excited to have one of Ernie Pawliuk’s stunning guitars, displayed in our glass case. We have seen photos of Ernie’s guitar making in process so it is very interesting to see the work up close.

Amrit Ahuja also brought in a guitar he made in grade 8! Amrit’s two guitars on display have been decorated with Sharpie art! 

Fascinating Sound Wave Art

Amrit Ahuja, also an audio engineer, printed and framed a variety of the sound waves created from different instruments. And a sound wave form made by the words, “I Love You”. A fusion of sound and art.

Fun Art of Sound

Michelle Lonsdale painted a gramophone called “Is This a Grandma Phone?”. It is displayed over another display: a record player with a box of vinyl records you can choose from to play – oldies and spoken word, like Janis Joplin and poet John Masefield.

Q101 contributed a vintage sound board we have placed low enough for all ages to move the dials and pretend they are in

Art of Sound

“Jukebox” by Robert Moretti

charge of the sound…

And Robert Moretti’s two paintings are a colourful addition- a jukebox on a checkered floor, and a painting of a piano and a guitar, Cuban public art. We are already getting ideas from the Cuban piece…perhaps a wood carving for our own musical town?

Inspiration!

Art exhibitions are a place of potential inspiration. And so are live music events.

This show “Art of Sound” is both an inspiration for music making and art creation! It makes me want to hear more, see more, and learn more.

Some of our contributors speak eloquently on the effects of sound on our well being-physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. The vibrations of sound and their effects have been studied and used for centuries. Vicki Strom brought in a book to go with her display, “Yoga of Sound”.

Some of the exhibition pieces are for sale! Check them out and add an original piece of local art to your walls!

Art of Sound Events

Reception done! Vanessa Trenholm catered a delicious table of food for our February 1st evening reception. Lots of people came and the rooms were filled with the sounds of…sound, music, chatting. Shirley Lindgren gave us demonstrations of her guzheng, a Chinese stringed instrument. And the group Strings Plus entertained our small crowd with their music, before gracing us with more at Open Mic later that evening.

Art of Sound

Singing Bowls from Gale Simpson

Upcoming Sound and Art Events at the Courthouse Arts Gallery

Feb 13, 6-7pm – Artist Talk with Artist/Sculptor Pius Chong. Come and Listen!

Feb 27, 7-9pm – Singing Bowls with Gale Simpson, and more sound exploration. 

And stay tuned for times for Raven Ritcey’s Djembe drumming in the Gallery. 

The Gallery is open Thursday to Saturday, 12-6pm.

And join the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council, if you haven’t already! 

 

And Join us!

There’s always great sound at our Open Mic Nights at Kekuli Cafe, Friday nights 7-9pm. And a special themed night tonight, February 8th. Love songs and poems. Songs of romance is our focus…

Hope to see you!

Jano Howarth

Experience Arts and Culture in the Nicola Valley!

Art of Sound

Art of Sound Poster

 

Community Marketing and Blogging 

The “Merritt 18” are a positive voice for the Nicola Valley

“To sit back and watch the Merritt program empower locals to play a bigger role in representing their community positively online while interacting with others in the community… is very powerful.”

These past few days we have embarked on another round of training with some new Merrittonians about positive marketing and blogging for the Experience Nicola Valley Blog based out of Merritt, BC Canada. Thank you to Gurpreet and his staff at the Ramada Inn in Merritt for being so accommodating and just all-a-round great people to deal with. 

Content marketing training,  and engaging with like-minded people (aka blogging) is a top 3 favorite part of my job. Number one favorite – for you newbies to my blogging – is a no brainer, it has to be outdoor adventures. Number 2 would have to be research road trips in the Maple Leaf RV with my co founding brother Colin. 

But when it comes to communication, relationships and teamwork there is no better joy for me than sharing my passion and enthusiasm for small and rural communities in Canada. Being a small town boy, there is an affection that runs deep. In so many ways content marketing is good therapy for the bloggers, the community, the traveller and for us.  

Community Blogging and Marketing

Community blogging presentation in Merritt, BC, Canada

So if my elementary math teacher was right… 14, 15, 16, 17…  that makes it 18 bloggers. The “Merritt 18”. That has a cool ring to it! I think it deserves a hashtag for this post – #merritt18 . What do you think?

So you can imagine my excitement of having another opportunity to do some meeting and greeting with more real people. It was another opportunity for “moi” to connect  with 7 more quality individuals who live, work and play in Nicola Valley.  Here they are! Please give them a round of applause. I am clapping right now. Eh.. come on clap. 

Community Marketing and Blogging

(Back Row L-R)) Tony Luck, Greg Girard (Middle Row L-R) Melvina White, Wanda Luck, Michelle Bacon, Ali McDougall, Traci Marie Nixon (Front) Tania Stewart

Thank you Merritt and the Nicola Valley

We are already seeing the positive results online from the stories and experiences shared by the current Experience Nicola Valley bloggers. A great group representing many parts of the Nicola Valley ranging all over the map from a youth blogger in Grade 10 , Jordyn Lee, she so rocks… to one of our most popular bloggers, the very funny and classy senior Diane Lavoie.  So thank you to the community of Merritt and throughout the Nicola Valley for your support of our story tellers. 

The real gratitude comes in the chatter on the streets of Merritt, in the coffee houses and on social media. There is a feel-good buzz reverberating in this community. I am hearing it, I hope the locals are too. Slowly we are making a difference one word at a time. I feel like a proud parent!

We are now training another group of bloggers. Seven to be exact. I am sure there are 2 or 3 super star bloggers in this group too. As one blogger put it when talking about the team…

“Have your say everyday”
                                                                                Melvina White

Nicola Valley Skills To Succeed

Who better to talk up their community than the people who live, work and play in the community. It is the people who live in Merritt BC Canada who know the community the best. Not some suit and tie behind a desk in some far away land. Locals have the passion. It is an opportunity for all our new friends involved to become a positive role model in the Nicola Valley.  Something every community in Canada can never get enough of.  I do believe the “Merritt 18” will do their part.

Nicola Valley marketing

Presentation blogging in Merritt BC

Community Marketing Highlights of the Nicola Valley

So encouragement, teamwork and positive attitude were the key words of our 3 day retreat. As part of the process I wanted to know what this group of Merritonians thought of the Nicola Valley.  I asked our current new and eager “blogites”, “What makes Merritt BC Canada so special?” The catch was to blurt out one-word descriptions as fast as you can to fill a list of 10. Here is what the group came up with. 

  1. Music
  2. Lifestyle
  3. People
  4. Affordability
  5. Fishing
  6. Downtown
  7. Hiking
  8. Mountain Biking
  9. Photography
  10. Star Gazing

The Power of the Community

This is a big deal! The results so far in just 6 months clearly shows that this community marketing program can be a big part of the solution for many a rural and small communities in Canada. The success of some of the bloggers leaves us very little doubt that the community marketing program can accomplish great things with the right people, right tools and the right attitudes.

It is the first community marketing program of its kind in Canada. Congratulations to Merritt is in order. To sit back and watch the Merritt program empower locals to play a bigger role in representing their community positively online while interacting with others in the community… is very powerful.

Community Storytellers 

In a few short days the community marketing “blogites” will have a voice echoing throughout the “blogosphere”. Soon, real soon, the fun begins as the new bloggers will be unleashed on the Nicola Valley to explore, experience and tell positive stories. With so many boots-on-the-ground there are going to be some very impressive stories to tell.  So keep on checking them out at www.ExperienceNicolaValley.com or follow us on social media (links below).

Our content marketing family is growing and I am so proud of this group of people, putting their differences aside, and coming together for the common good of Merritt and the Nicola Valley. So… out of curiosity I had to ask this new group of bloggers, “Why they want to tell stories and share experiences via blogging?”  

“To share my stories, experiences about this amazing community!”
                                                                                            Michelle Bacon

Do you have a Nicola Valley story to share?

Everyone has a feel-good Nicola Valley story to share? Do you? Contact your favorite blogger today and make the arrangements for them to stop by. They love to chat, I do know that. 

Look up individual bloggers on the www.ExperienceNicolaValley.com blogsite. New bloggers will be added in next few days. 

You can find them online too on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram .

Tag them anytime on social media @experiencenicolavalley

Join the conversation and add a hashtag to your posts #experiencenicolavalley

Life is good in Merritt BC Canada!  

Community Marketing and Blogging

​Country Christmas Week Here in Merritt, BC!

Country Christmas delivers fun and community spirit…

​With a Festival of Trees, a Community Choir event, the Love to Dance Performance, our fabulous Christmas Parade, and shopping til midnight!

“We keep having to paint more little festive canvases as people buy them right off the tree!​”

Country Christmas

Tiny Painted Canvas Decorations

Our Country Christmas week is spectacular! It takes place during the last week of November and is one of the best things to do in Merritt.

My own experience started a few days before the week of celebration with the arrival of our tree at the Courthouse Gallery. For several years the Festival of Trees has involved an inspired number of businesses and non-profit groups. The groups each decorate a tree in their own fashion, from classic to creative, 

This means we have trees decorated with hockey pucks, ballet slippers, and peacock feathers-and everything in between. One year I decorated our Pop Up Shop tree with little dolls and teddy bears (all with sparkle halos on their heads) and rainbow feather boa garlands.

Festival of Trees 

Country Christmas

Festival of Trees Past at CMHF

For the first years of Country Christmas, all the trees were set up on the main street of town, in the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. It’s a beautiful building with hard wood floors, high ceilings, and western-style chandeliers. The venue attracted locals and visitors from neighboring towns to see our Festival of Trees.

This year for the Festival of Trees event, all the decorated trees are spread out around the town, and people head out to do the tree tour. We adorned our tree at the Courthouse Gallery with tiny canvases, painted by local artists and interested Creatives. We keep having to paint more little canvases as people are buying them right off the tree! And all the money supports the Gallery.

Love to Dance Performance

Country Christmas

Love to Dance “Museum of Art”

This year, for the Country Christmas festivities, the Love to Dance Academy​ presented “Museum of Art”. Dance teachers Lizette Nel and Vanessa van Rensburg choreographed the dances which involved dancers of all ages, from adorable tots to graceful seniors. 

Herman Nel looked after the creation of the sets designed by Vanessa and Lizette, as well as the lights and music. Over a hundred colourful and gorgeous costumes and dresses were designed and sewn by talented members of the Merritt Dance Society. And there were plenty of volunteers, parents and dance lovers, who helped pull off the beautiful event. 

The two-hour long performance was presented at both an afternoon matinee, with classes of children arriving on school buses, and a stellar evening performance. 

Michelle Etchart, local songstress, performed two moving pieces while dancing continued around her. 

Country Christmas

Michelle Etchart

The night performance was captured on video, with CD’s available. I attended the matinee, and will be sure to acquire the evening performance CD. Worth watching again! And kudos to all those involved, with special recognition to the dancers showing such professionalism in putting on the two events in the same day!

Thanks to the Love to Dance Academy!

Christmas Concert!

Talk about things to do in Merritt! The night after the dance performances, several choirs and singing groups, duos, and soloists, provided a soul-satisfying musical evening to a large crowd at the Merritt Civic Center. (That’s the farthest away from the doors I have ever had to park in my many years of Merritt living!) 

Country Christmas

Merritt Community Band

The Merritt Community Band was there, the Community Choir, and more…

Also, Cecilia Dyck and Caitlyn Stephanie Walsh played piano duets, the four Snees entertained, and Michelle Etchart again performed with her spot on renditions.

And not only did the groups and soloists perform their own pieces, but the collaborations amongst them, and even the audience, brought the community together in inspired evening of music.

Well done! Bravo!

Then the Santa Parade…

I have heard that our Santa Parade is the largest in the world! The country? Our province? Well, I’ll wait to be informed properly but I do think the Nicola Valley Santa Parade is one of the best things to do in Merritt!

​The Merritt Country Christmas Santa Parade’s success shows what stuff our community is made of. We are tough, determined, hard working, creative, and ready to have fun…and all in support of our businesses and organizations.

And this year’s parade tested all of those qualities because it started to rain as the parade entries were lining up, started to pour as it got going, and the rain didn’t quit until near the end, when big fat snowflakes started to fall. People knew they’d get soaked, but they didn’t stay home. The floors of the shops, open for business until midnight after the parade, had puddles from the rain soaked customers….

Check out the photos of the rainy event on Merritt Herald‘s online coverage.

Open Mic Night, one more thing to do in Merritt during our Country Christmas week!

Country Christmas

Donna Dixon, a regular at Open Mic night

On the Friday night of the Santa Parade, I jut got wet running out to my car, and then dashing in to Kekuli Cafe. We put on a special Open Mic night that night! And we watched the rain come down, then the snow, and then mopped up the puddles that our audience left on the cafe floor when they poured in after the parade and settled in to the cozy venue.

 Mugs of hot coffee, tea, and hot chocolate were in high demand! And we invited our musicians to warm up the crowd. Al and Denise, Robert Bertrand, Willard Wallace, Quade Lindgren, Jim West…

And regulars like Doug and Donna Dixon were there to enjoy the live music.

 

It was a special Country Christmas 2018 

Pouring rain during our Santa Parade only adds to the memories!

I hope there are always Country Christmas planners and volunteers. This week is a highlight in our community. It gets all of us who participate in any way, from young to old, in the mood for the holiday season, whatever our beliefs. We come together, show off our talents, have fun, support each other and are inspired to be thankful for each other. 

So kudos to the people in our community who plan Country Christmas, who put on the events, and who participate in them to make them all worthwhile. 

Let’s recognize each other for the contributions to community that Country Christmas brings!

Country Christmas

Painted Canvases on our Gallery tree

Now, does anyone want to come to the Courthouse Gallery to paint a little canvas for our tree? I found some empty spaces again! All welcome!

And you can wave to the LTD dancers while you are there. We share the Courthouse space.

Life as I know it, Jano Howarth

Creative Community

Nicola Valley Community Arts Council

 

 

 

Country Christmas

Phyllis Laage’s Tree Decoration

WILD! Flies, Skins, and Skulls…

Creative Exhibition at the Courthouse Arts Gallery, Merritt Canada

Fishermen, Hunters, Photographers, Collectors, Artists…

Things to do in Merritt

Taxidermy, fly ties, carvings

Things to do in Merritt…A nature exhibition Nicola Valley style: taxidermy, fly ties, rods, skulls, pelts, eagle photography, moose airbrush painting. Collections of stuffed birds, birds’ nests,  shells…lots to see!

Who’s showing their nature art and collections at the Gallery?

  • Peter McVey, fly tier and fisherman extraordinaire. 
  • Willie Kiegerl, providing us with a variety of animal skulls to identify. And other wildlife. 
  • Dawn Shackelly’s eagle photography, and owls, big horn sheep, baby ducks… 
  • Jessie Rabbit with her bull calf and fireweed, her beautiful airbrush painting. 
  • Cindy Trent with collections: skulls, BC shells, sea stars, and bird’s nests 
  • Rory Hepner has provided beaver and coyote pelts, and animal skulls 
  • Artist Renee Hartwigs’ tri coloured owl and Joel Reid’s “find the bird” painting 
  • Mischelle and Bill Pierce have contributed both creatures and colourful fly ties 
  • Fran McMurchy created three small watercolour creeks for three fly ties in oak frames. Unique! 

And Murphy Shewchuck, who put down his fly rod years ago. And picked up his camera… 

A nature exhibition Nicola Valley style…

Things to do in Merritt

Nature collections and Renee Hartwig’s Owl Art

Our Nicola Valley, surrounding the town of Merritt Canada, is filled with hunters and fishermen and women. Lots of families in the area raise their children with skills to provide for their families from the land around. From berries to deer to lake trout. Children and adults alike celebrate bringing down their first deer, or catching their first salmon.

We are set in a grassland valley, filled with creeks and lakes, surrounded by rolling hills and mountain ranges. There are a lot of choices, many paths to take, and backroads to follow- to hunt, fish, gather. Lots of nature.

Our exhibition reflects this focus on nature in the area!

I have long been fascinated with the art of fly fishing and fly tying. As a child, my family just fished with rods that fit in our Rambler. We fished enough, and I enjoyed it enough, to make sure my own kids had rods and gear enough to catch Lake Trout at Monck Park, which we ate for supper on the camp fire.

But we had friends who were hooked on fly fishing, and I watched movies with fly fishing action (looks close to meditation). And I could see the charm of those long, supple rods flashing the line out over water. And the flies…

We have one of the most well-known fly tiers in our area displaying his flies, ties, and accoutrement. Peter McVey not only told stories at our WILD! Reception, but left his book so we could read more about his adventures…

We have vintage suitcases displaying flies that others have created. Works of art!

What if you wanted to get started on fly tying?

From Gear Junkie

Catching your first fish on the fly will embed new levels of appreciation for all things fly fishing.

Things to do in Merritt

Fly Tie Watercolour art by Fran McMurchy

Most fly anglers hit a point in their fishing career when they think about tying their own flies…. There’s an entirely new level of satisfaction from catching a fish on a fly you tied yourself.

The path to tying amazing flies isn’t the easiest. And the reward is 10-fold compared to that of storebought flies.

Fly tying is an angling tool that can empower you to catch more fish. Tying flies enables an angler to not only replicate their favorite bug at the fly shop but also create their own custom patterns no one else has. The only limits you face at a tying vise are imagination and creativity.

Anglers construct flies to replicate the exact bugs found in streams.

Tying also offers the avenue to get in touch with the most artistic side of fly fishing. Fully dressed Atlantic salmon flies and modern articulated streamers can be just as artistic as painting, with the hook acting as your canvas. 

Yes! That’s what I thought when, as art gallery director in our small community, we were brainstorming Art Exhibitions.

This area is filled with fishable lakes and streams. One of our oldest slogans is “A lake a day, as long as you stay!”

The Nicola Valley is a perfect place for a Fly Tie show!

Things to do in Merritt

Ruffed Grouse, birds’ nests

And, my buddy said…taxidermy too! Well, sure!

Most of us have seen taxidermied creatures, in museums, at our uncle’s house… Taxidermy is an art in itself.

What does taxidermy mean? From answers.com

Taxi is Latin for move. Dermis is Latin for Skin. Taxidermist is a mover of skin. Taxidermy is what he does. A taxis is a division of classification especially when concerning animals. Dermous means skin, Dermy is an activity concerned with skin. So — Many types of animal skin activity.

In the Nicola Valley, we have several taxidermists. They do work for locals and also do spectacular mounts for clients outside our area. I’ve seen photos…

At the Gallery we have stuffed birds: ptarmigan, ruffed grouse, blue grouse (the smart ones), a beautiful owl… And a mounted fish.

We also have amazing carvings of birds and fish that look like the real thing…

And if you want a taste of the big critters, we have photographs of mountain sheep, bald eagles, an air brush painting of a moose calf. And real antlers of moose and deer, a buffalo hoof, a coyote and beaver pelt, two bear skulls…

Lots of skulls! Of all kinds! Coyote, beaver, raccoon, fish… Hummingbird skeleton! You can barely see it!

So here we are, in the middle of an exhibition showcasing the work of many people local to our area. Collectors, painters, fly tiers, taxidermists.

Things to Do in Merritt… Come and Visit & Get Involved!

From Oct 11-Nov 3, 2018, at the Courthouse Arts Gallery.

Things to do in Merritt

WILD! Poster by Kim Leclair

Got skulls? We are looking for donated animal skulls, bones, antlers, for a painting workshop!

This should be fun…. Want to join us?

Register for Saturday, Oct 27/18. 1-3pm at the Courthouse Arts Gallery in Merritt. $20. $10 if you bring your own skull…

Go to Nicola Valley Arts Council Facebook Page for more info!

And if you miss it, we’d love to collect skulls and antlers for more artwork, for another time. Call 250-378-6515 to donate.

Also fly tie expert and fisherman extraordinaire, Peter McVey, is telling stories, Friday Nov 3/18, 4-6pm at the Courthouse Arts Gallery, 1840 Nicola Avenue, Merritt, BC

Visit Nicola Valley Arts Council‘s site for more about the arts in the Nicola Valley.

Read my blog about Open Mic Nights in Merritt, held every Friday night at Kekuli cafe 7-9pm. Come on out!

Jano Howarth, promoting creativity in our community

Tom Reynolds

Volunteer Coordinator at Merritt Country Run
My name is Tom Reynolds and I have lived in Merritt for sixteen years.From the minute I arrived here I new I was home.There is no place I would rather live.My blogging focus will be “eclectic”.In other words, I will have no focus.I have too many interests, I just can’t spend time on just one area.
Tom Reynolds

Latest posts by Tom Reynolds (see all)

Artist of Merritt- Libby Dybikowski

“I like to work quickly and spontaneously…”

Libby believes art can help you see the world in a different way.

Artists of Merritt

Turquoise Vase 16″x20″ Acrylic on Canvas

Libby Dybikowski is one of our popular and prolific Artists of Merritt. Her work is known for colour vibrancy, for bold brush-work, and for simple themes with lasting appeal. She says the enjoyment of the Nicola Valley surroundings and the pleasure of travel to exotic locations drive her choice of subject matter. 

I first met Libby at a Nicola Valley Community Arts Council meeting. And I discovered a focused, articulate lover of arts and cultures, with skills of great use to a social-profit organization. We worked together when I first took on the Gallery Director job for the arts council. She hung my first show, collaborating with the three lower mainland artists for the “Poetic Language of Landscape” exhibition. I will always be grateful…

Artists of MerrittI first encountered Libby’s art, when I invited her to fill some spaces for a community show we held. A lot of the art contributed by the community ended up, to a large part, smaller in scale than I anticipated. Libby’s work is all sizes. And she brought in several large canvases, covered with bold colour and form. I became a fan…

From the words of Anne MacKay, Chief of Conservation at the McCord Museum in Montreal, “Libby Dybikowski’s skillful handling of colour and form give her work an impact that is hard to deny. Strong, sensuous and daring, her paintings grab the observer at first glance, and continue to engage with every viewing.”

 

Montreal beginnings, Vancouver life… 

Artists of Merritt

Burrard Inlet, Before 18″x24″

Born in Montreal, Libby spent her first twenty or so years in Montreal. From her website: Libby has been a lifelong appreciator of the arts, including music, theatre, dance and fine art. A graduate of McGill University in French language and literature, with a year at the Université Aix-Marseille and two summers at Cornell’s Hotel School, her professional achievements prior to painting included management strategist, negotiator, and founder of a successful national executive search business. 

Libby enjoyed painting as a child, and watched her father, an architect, paint “en plein aire”. As a teenager she found more interest in music, and playing the clarinet and appreciating classical and jazz forms.

From age 20 to retirement, Libby worked in Vancouver, in human resources for Hilton International and the Bay, and as a university administrator at UBC, and finally owning and operating her own executive search firm, Provence Consulting, that specialized in searches for university administrators for universities across Canada..

Artists of Merritt – Libby Dybikowski in the Nicola Valley Artists of Merritt

Upon retirement, Libby and her husband spent more and more time in the beautiful Nicola Valley. Here she ran across a watercolour workshop given by Jean Kiegerl, picked up her brushes, and hasn’t looked back since. She switched to acrylics and now paints often, in spurts. Inspired by her surroundings: the landscapes, the animals and people around her, and her travels. Libby includes mixed media is some of her work, like paper and netting.

She has a studio where she can leave out her paintings in progress. Libby walks away from them when the artistic flow stops or slows down, and returns to them when the time is right.

One of her pastimes, between painting bursts, is spending time with her horse, Buttercup. For a while Libby also created jewelry with semi-precious stones.

More About Libby

Artists of Merritt

Libby and fellow artist Kim Vizi-Carmen

Libby enjoys playing bridge with friends.

She prefers coffee to tea, dogs to cats. 

Libby watches tennis and late night talk shows – or parts, like Stephen Colbert’s monologues. Her favourite movie is still Lawrence of Arabia. And favourite books are Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities and The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje

Libby loves to bake and enjoys French cuisine. 

And France is her favourite country to visit.

Libby loves to travel, creating her own travel adventures with her husband, Jim.

Support, Inspirations, and the place of Art in Society.

Artists of Merritt

Libby and husband Jim

Libby feels she gets a lot of support for her painting, from Jim, and her friends and fellow artists, like Kim Vizi-Carmen and Jean Kiegerl. She has received mentoring from many artists, including Joanne Beaule Ruggles and Patricia Peters. She has enjoyed painting alongside artists, like Cyndra Bradford in California. Libby says she has learned a lot in the company of other artists.

When asked about the challenges she has encountered in pursuing her art, Libby talks about the importance of pleasing herself when she paints and not being affected by the opinions of others.

 

She believes that art stretches society, that it can help you see the world in a different way. “Bigger and better…bigger skies, deeper oceans.”

Libby has long admired Canadian Group of Seven artist, Lawren Harris. She visits art galleries and museums for inspiration in cities when she travels- Paris, Barcelona, Nice. “Amazing!” And most recently, Marrakesh, a city she would return to…

Merritt 2 Marrakesh 

Artists of Merritt

Merritt 2 Marrakesh

Libby is showing at the Courthouse Arts Gallery. There are over 30 paintings depicting three themes: her recent trip to Morocco and the exotic city of Marrakesh, the city of Vancouver, BC, and the Nicola Valley. From horses, to mountains, to colourful city scenes, to flower still life, and in all sizes, Libby has something for everyone to enjoy. And all of us in the Nicola Valley have the opportunity to acquire a Libby Dybikowski painting of our own.

Come and see Libby’s work at the Courthouse Arts Gallery on Nicola Valley in Merritt. Or visit Libby’s website, where you will find her paintings are available for the world.

See for yourself and tell a friend! September 6-29, 2018

Merritt 2 Marrakesh

Read more about other artists of Merritt and art and culture in the Nicola Valley, here on Experience Nicola Valley.

Check out our local Nicola Valley Community Arts Council site to see what is happening in the arts in the valley.

Jano Howarth

Every work of art which really moves us is in some degree a revelation: it changes us.  Lawren Harris

Bikepacking Merritt – the Epic 1000

The BC Epic is a 1000km traverse across South Central BC

 I rode as fast as I thought I could, without injuring or killing myself…

Darch Oborne participated in the BC Epic 1000, and tells us about the bikepacking adventure. In his words…

The BC Epic 1000 is an offroad, unofficial, completely self-supported bikepacking ride/race in the spirit

bikepacking

The beginning in Merritt, BC

of the underground “Tour divide” style and under the same rules. No registration (other than on the website), no support, no insurance, no prizes – it is simply a plotted route with a suggested time for an unofficial group ride. Show up and ride at your own risk.

The BC Epic is a 1000km (1040 to be exact), 11,000m elevation traverse across South Central BC starting in Merrit and ending in Fernie (or vice versa if you choose) mostly along the Trans Canada Trail. The route is about 80% off road on mostly old decommissioned rail grades

The BC Epic 1000 bikepacking ride, since 2015

2018 was the third year of the bikepacking race, created by Dr. Lennard Pretorius of Kamloops. Jame Oborne and Lennard are also the first two riders to complete the Merritt 150 Epic on June 16, in eleven hours and forty-seven minutes. Lennard rode the first and second ‘1000’s’ and had a course record for a while. Virtually single-handedly, Lennard conceived and organized the Epic, seeing it grow from sixteen riders in 2016 to sixty-seven entrants in 2018. Quite an achievement! I predict there will be 100 racers in 2019.

I’d guess that of the sixty-seven riders entered, ten were extreme athletes, with three or four being extremely extreme, ie: 600 miles of off-road riding in less than three days, with less than six hours of sleep! Most of us “racers” chose to get at least some sleep (four to six hours in my case). nightly. Usually right at the side of the trail, after an evening meal at 9 PM, consisting of a couple of energy bars!

Many racers had lights and rode into the dark. My strategy was to ride as fast as I could without injury and to ride long, ie: from the crack of dawn at 4 AM to dark at 9 PM, to at least try to keep up with the middle of the pack.

The grades are less than three percent, but just relentless

The route is mostly old railway bed, including the KVR to Midway and Columbia Western to Castlegar. The grades are less than three percent, but just relentless, such as the climb out of Princeton to Summerland and Christina Lake to Castlegar–they just go on and on and on! But, through beautiful upland fields of flowers, several trestles, tunnels, raging rivers, beautiful forests, lovely meadows are all part of the Epic.

Many bikepacking racers stopped and took pictures of the beautiful features, often allowing me to catch up to them. Then there’s the torture of the Grey Creek Pass. Sixteen kilometers of ‘up’ on gravel, rutted road, at grades to sixteen percent–hike a bike for fifteen kilometers! No fun at all, after already being on the trail for four days.

It is self-supported, meaning you carry what you think you’ll need for each section ahead, including food and water. You can stop at towns or houses for provisions–root beers and double teenburgers–YUM! (I had some coupons from the mail).

I carried my small stove for a quick coffee

bikepacking

Darch begins the Epic 1000

You carry what you think you’ll need to give you a good sleep, dry riding etc. I carried my small stove for a quick coffee/hot choc in the AM (I only used it twice), and I used a Kelty Thermarest pad, summer bag, and Tyvek covering, all wrapped up in my 1/2 body bag from Kiwanis Surplus store. The bikes of choice are Surly big boys, with 2.5″ to 2.8″ width tires.

I used my Transition Smuggler 29″ with gravel tires (2.5″ on the front and 2.3″ on the rear) until I broke the Hammerschmidt bottom bracket bolt about 3 miles N of Beaverdell at 6 AM on Day 3. Luckily, my son James was in Vernon and after a two-hour wait, he arrived with his Trek hardtail 29″.

Within another two hours, I was on the road, with most of my gear mounted on it. It proved to be a lively, but “hard-on-the-ass” steed and I was able to finish the race with it. Thanks, James–my option was to hitch to Kelowna and buy or rent a bike (sure, on Canada Day)!

There are no support stations, no route markings

I rode as fast as I thought I could, without injuring/killing myself, which was mostly fourteen to sixteen in the saddle daily, with four to six hours of “sleep” at the side of the trail. I figured that if I rode slow and steady, and long, I could maybe keep up with some of the pack. After day one, I only saw two riders for the next five days. We were all so spread out over the 600 miles. Most riders carried a SPOT GPS tracking device, so I checked my relative position a few times, but that’s disheartening when I was (only) halfway, in Grand Forks and Evan Deutsche had finished in Fernie!

There are no support stations, no route markings (other than Trans Cda Trail signs) and you rely on your GPS (my old Garmin did not function well at all—should have tested it more thoroughly). I carried a SPOT tracker with an SOS button for extreme emergency, but it enabled my family to track my slow progress towards the finish in Fernie. The SPOT ate batteries and I had to re-supply twice–not able to find AAA Lithium in Midway or Greenwood. Carry more spares!

And speaking of spares, you have to carry anything you think you’ll need to repair yourself and your bike, and for any weather, etc. As for a Hammerschmidt bottom bracket bolt (we’d just changed the bottom bracket days before the race–go figure)! I carried three tubes and used only one, but a few racers slashed their tires and went through several tubes.

I kept looking for Lance Armstrong’s care packages

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You carry what you need

Of the 29 scratches (non-finishers) in the race, most were for human failings, ie: tendons/hamstrings/chafing etc. Mechanicals played their part, but most racers had put many, many miles on their steeds and knew what to expect of them. I did several ‘long’ rides on local gravel roads, ie: six to seven hours and did an overnight trip to Princeton and slept in the bush.

I should have “trained” harder, faster, and longer, but at seventy-three, there’s a limit to my strength and endurance, which I knew beforehand.  All through the race, I kept looking for Lance Armstrong’s care packages, but alas, I found none.

I passed so many lovely lakes and streams that I desperately wanted to dip in and just stop and enjoy, but I did not succumb until the last evening at Koocanusa lake. What a joy to swim and wash after five days of hard riding! On reflection, maybe except for the awful Grey Creek Pass, the route would be nice to do in, say, two weeks, in a group–still riding hard, but stopping to smell the roses…often.

Who wants to do it? The Epic 1000

Nope, not again, for me…unless? I’ll be pleased to assist other Nicola Valley rider who wants to do it and I’ll continue to help Lennard with organizing a BBQ, home hosting, etc. The BC Epic 1000 is a free event, totally volunteer, which turns my cranks for sure. Any riders wanting to try bike-packing, I’d be glad to loan equipment and accompany you if desired. Go to Bikepacking.com for the best info. The kindred spirit of the racers was super, although, as stated above, I rarely saw another racer after day one, until the finish.

My thanks to my family and friends who sent texts of encouragement along the way, those who helped

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Darch’s upports- Travis Fehr of Breathe Bikes, Merritt. And wife Catherine

with the BBQ, home hosting, and to Mayor Menard who came out at 7 AM to start the race. Thanks to MMBA for renting the Park for the BBQ, which was appreciated by all the racers, as they got to meet each other–often for the first time.

Racers filled over fifty Merritt motel rooms the night before, and many will be back to enjoy the hospitality they experienced as well as the mountain biking on our great trails. A win for all.

Ride On!

Guest Blog post (and ride) by Darch Oborne

Executive Director of Merritt Mountain Bike Association

Thanks, Darch! Epic effort!

For more on Darch, and his contributions to our biking experiences in the Nicola Valley, click here.

And for those of you who would like to get on board this sport…

From the site Bikepacking: Simply put, bikepacking is the synthesis of mountain biking and minimalist camping. It evokes the freedom of multi-day backcountry hiking, but with the range and thrill of riding a mountain bike. It’s about exploring places less traveled, both near and far, via singletrack trails, gravel, and abandoned dirt roads, carrying only essential gear. Ride, eat, sleep, repeat, enjoy!