Vernon’s Kal Tire Place provided the perfect space for a plethora of performers at the annual Okanagan Military Tattoo.
“It was a huge success,” said Norm Crerar, founder of the Tattoo. “We had close to 4,000 people come out for the two-day event.”
The event is a way to pay tribute to the valley’s military past and present.
The term tattoo comes from when the British army were fighting in Belgium 300 years ago, drummers were sent into the town each night to call the soldiers in from the pubs. The drummers continued to play until the curfew at 10 p.m. The word ‘doe den tap toe’ is dutch for ‘turn off the tap,’ as the expression evolved to tap-too and finally, tattoo,
Kal Tire Place saw two editions of the two-hour show Saturday and Sunday featuring hundreds of musical and dancing acts. Among the performers included the RCMP E Division Pipe Band, one of eight RCMP bands that are active around the country.
“The audience really appreciated the variety in the show, with the dancers and music,” said Crerar. “The two bands from the Canadian Armed Forces and the Canadian Armed Forces pipes and drums really did something special.”
During the after event social on Saturday night, a small grass fire sparked steps from Kal Tire Place. Luckily, members of the Kelowna and Kamloops Pipe Bands were firefighters, and leapt at the chance to help out.
“There was no hesitation,” Crerar said. “They grabbed the hose, ran out the door and up the road and they had it under control in five minutes.”
“These were big guys, they were all pipers and drummers. They are trained, and every time they enter a public building, they look for where the fire extinguisher, AED, and fire exits are just in case.”
Due to the large cost of renting out Kal Tire Place (close to $100,000), Crerar explained that it he is “struggling” to recoup costs on the event that has been a staple in the community since 2014.
“A third of our income comes from ticket sales,” he said. “The rest of it comes from grants from the government, while the other third comes from in-kind and other donations that are really, really important to us.”
For 2024, Crerar is considering moving the event to the last weekend in May, or first weekend in June, so that more performers can attend.
“A lot of people are gone on vacation in July so we would like to have it earlier to have more attendees.”