It was a typical midday at the Vernon Community Arts Centre.
Hands were busy molding and throwing clay, painters were setting up their easels, and staff member Keyanna Burgher was at the front desk attending to her duties.
Suddenly she heard someone from inside the building yelling her name.
Running towards the ruckus coming from the centre’s glazing studio, Burgher found sparks and smoke emitting from one of the kilns.
Someone quickly turned off the breaker, but the damage was done.
The kiln was dead.
“Our clay studio is the largest in the Okanagan and we have tons of working artists, so when a disaster like this happens, it makes us sit up and take notice,” said Burgher.
It’s been six weeks since the kiln blew up and the mourning period is about to end as the VCAC holds its Day of the Dead Kiln fundraiser Tuesday.
“Most of us at the arts centre love Halloween and we’re having fun planning this event,” said Burgher.
One of three kilns at the centre used for drying and firing pottery, the arts centre depends on all its equipment for both its adult and children classes, drop-in events as well as for its Joining Hands program, which provides adults living with disabilities varied opportunities to explore and develop their artistic abilities.
“This kiln was 20 years old and we were going to replace our other kiln that is over 10 years old… They are both too old for kilns that work every single day,” said Burgher, adding the dead kiln was worth $8,000.
Those ages 16 and over are encouraged to wear costumes for the Day of the Dead Kiln fundraiser.
“We have a ton of activities planned,” said Burgher. “We’ll have pumpkin bowling down one hall and our large studio will be transformed into a haunted house with actors.”
A special barrel firing outside the centre will feature handmade clay skulls and a silent auction will be available for those to bid on donated items and services such as locally-made art and art instruction.
The event will also feature tarot readings, bobbing for donuts, treats, a photo booth and much more.
Tickets for the Day of the Dead Kiln fund-raiser, Nov. 1 from 6-9 p.m., are available for $10 each at the VCAC, located beside the Okanagan Science Centre at the east entrance to Polson Park, as well cash only at the Bean Scene on 30th Avenue. and Leap Art Supplies and Gallery at 3100 29th Ave.
More information is available at vernonarts.ca.