A pipe band marches during the inaugural Okanagan Military Tattoo held in Vernon this summer. Audiences can get a small taste of the tattoo when the Kalamalka Highlanders and the Arran Campbell Memorial pipe bands host their Ceilidh in the Valley at the Performing Arts Centre Saturday.

For the love of pipes and drums

The inaugural Okanagan Military Tattoo leads into annual event for Vernon.

Those who didn’t hear the pipes a calling and see military bands marching on the August long weekend will have the opportunity when the Okanagan Military Tattoo returns next summer.

In what was one of the biggest military displays the Okanagan has ever seen, the tattoo returns to Vernon July 25 and 26.

“The Okanagan Military Tattoo 2014 was a huge success by any measure,” said Norm Crerar, tattoo producer and director. “We almost sold out for the two shows.”

Now the only military tattoo in western Canada, with the demise of the Pacific Tattoo in Victoria, a total of 500 performers and 50 volunteers helped put on the event at Kal Tire Place.

The tattoo opened with the Cadet Honour Guard and RCMP Ceremonial Troop, as well as 200 pipes, drums, brass and reed players performing.

“Out-of-town bands that had been to other tattoo events in Scotland, Nova Scotia and Basel, Switzerland, said we were as well organized as any and treated the performers better,” said Crerar.

Many commented on the setting for the event, especially the closing ceremonies, which saw a lone piper perform the start of Amazing Grace in front of a specially built castle facade.

“Then all the pipes came in for the second verse and the brass and reeds joined in for the third verse,” said Crerar. “I don’t think there was a dry eye in the building, including mine.”

Crerar also noted the economic benefits from the event.

“All together performers and volunteers consumed 1,858 cups of Tim Horton’s coffee, 560 of Subway sandwiches, and 600 pounds of melons from Swan Lake Nurseryland,” he said. “As well, the performers and volunteers were fed dinner between the dress rehearsal Friday afternoon and the first show Friday evening.”

Youth were also a big part of the event, with 150 cadets from the Vernon Army Cadet Training Centre performing in both the Cadet Pipe Band and the Military Band, as well as part of the honour guard and flag party in the Tribute to the Veterans.

In addition,  400 cadets attended as paying guests, said Crerar.

There were also 30 Royal Canadian Legions and Army, Navy, Air Force Veterans Associations who took part in the Tribute to the Veterans, and 65 members of the Aberdeen Club,  who served as patrons for the Okanagan Military Tattoo Society.


Locals can catch some of the pipe and drum bands and dance groups who participated in the Okanagan Military Tattoo when the Ceilidh in the Valley takes place at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Saturday.

Hosted by The Kalamalka Highlanders and the Arran Campbell Memorial Pipe Band, the Celtic, Irish and Scottish gathering (pronounced kay-lee) is for the express purpose of having some fun, play some music, and do some dancing and singing.

Joining the Vernon bands will be the Kelowna Pipe Band and the Shuswap Pipes and Drums, who will also provide some solo works.

The Argyle School of Dance will bring its youngest and more seasoned Highland dancers to perform, as will the Sadok Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, who are said to have a Scottish connection.

Also performing are djembe drummers, youth solo pipers and other instrumentalists, and the Okanagan Celtic Choir, led by Andrew Mercer of Cod Gone Wild fame.

Tickets for Saturday’s Ceilidh in the Valley, which starts at 7 p.m., are $25/adult, $20/senior and $18/student at the Ticket Seller box office in the Performing Arts Centre.

Tickets for the 2015 Okanagan Military Tattoo are also on sale at the Ticket Seller. Call 250-549-7469 or visit www.ticketseller.ca to purchase or for more information.


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