Tattoo drumming up public interest

The Kalamalaka Highlanders Pipe Band is expected to be one of the participants in the first Okanagan Tattoo Aug. 3 at Wesbild Centre. - wayne emde photo
The Kalamalaka Highlanders Pipe Band is expected to be one of the participants in the first Okanagan Tattoo Aug. 3 at Wesbild Centre.
— image credit: wayne emde photo

A newly formed organizing committee wants to tattoo Vernon this summer.

And it has nothing to do with body art.

The Kalamalka Highlanders Pipe Band Society has spearheaded the organization of the first Okanagan Tattoo, which will bring together pipe bands, drill teams, dance groups, drummers, singers, RCMP and first responder teams for a two-hour continual show of entertainment.

The event, set for Aug. 3, at Wesbild Centre, will be based on legendary tattoos held in Scotland (three weeks in duration) and Nova Scotia (a week-long event).

In Dutch villages, drummers marched through the streets summoning British soldiers to return home from the pubs and inns.

“A drumbeat signalling innkeepers to ‘doe den tap toe,’ or ‘turn off the taps,’ was shortened to tattoo,” reads a statement on the Nova Scotia tattoo website (

The organizing committee will host a town hall meeting at Wesbild Centre on Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m.

“We want to invite folks and organizations who want to perform and folks who will want to volunteer. We believe we will have up to 300 cast members and 300 volunteers,” said Norm Crerar, president of the Kalamalka Highlanders Pipe Band Society, and co-chairperson of the Okanagan Tattoo who has visions of the event growing in popularity to match that of the one in Nova Scotia.

“I see this event in five years being a week-long celebration,” said Crerar. “But we have to do it right.”

“For our first tattoo, our theme will be a celebration of traditions,” added Okanagan Tattoo media liaison Wayne Emde, one of 10 members of the organizing committee.

Crerar said interest for local performers has come from six pipe bands from Vernon, Shuswap, Kamloops, Kelowna and Penticton, highland, Ukrainian and Sikh dance groups as well as Taiko drummers.

“People will see six-to-eight pipe bands playing as individual groups and in a mass performance,” said Crerar.

A Vernon choir, the RCMP and first responders have also expressed interest in taking part, as has the Vernon Army Camp Summer Training Centre with its pipe and brass bands, and drill team, under the guidance of drill master Capt. Kelly March from the Shuswap, who also serves on the Okanagan Tattoo organizing committee.

The Okanagan Tattoo has received $14,000 in funding support for its event from the Regional District of North Okanagan, which will go toward the rental of the Wesbild Centre and the lighting and sound equipment.

“We have to go out to corporate Vernon and district to find further funding to be able to host this event, probably another $15,000,” said Crerar.

Questions on the Okanagan Tattoo can be asked and answered at Tuesday’s meeting, which will be held in the large room at the north end of the Wesbild Centre.

Other organizing committee members include Rick Lavin – who will be co-chair along with Crerar – Derek Hall, Francois Arsenault, Dave Brotsky, Randy Jones, Julie Melanson and Al Beck.


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