Nestled in the heart of downtown Vernon, the Elks Lodge is growing steadily — and members and guests alike are getting their groove on.
Membership is growing continually at the Vernon Elks Lodge, which is now better equipped to welcome new members thanks to recent upgrades to the look and functionality of the space.
The Elks Lodge has been a fixture in the community for over a century, having first opened doors in 1920 before moving to its current location at 30th Street and 32nd Avenue in 1950.
The building is 117 years old, but recent renovations have breathed new life into the space. The interior has been repainted on the lower floor, which is now a white-walled “blank slate” that’s perfect for wedding receptions and events of all kinds. All of the Elks memorabilia has been moved upstairs to what is now known as the retro lounge, featuring a pool table, a shuffle board and bar, with the walls covered with photos of past presidents and other memories throughout the venue’s storied history.
More recently, the lodge has put an emphasis on offering live music to the public, and current lodge president Lorna Robb says the space has been rented for a number of shows of late.
“Everyone’s excited because they see our momentum and they see that we’re making changes,” said Robb.
The musical acts cater to a growing number of younger people who are flocking to the lodge.
“Although we continue to support previously popular events like the Friday night dinners and Sunday meat draws, the demographics of our new membership lean towards live music and reviving the use of the community hall to the people who live and work downtown,” said Robb.
The lodge’s membership list includes people who are highly connected to the community; three candidates for Vernon city council as well as Coldstream’s mayor elect are members.
“They understand the importance of what the Elks has been doing for over a century,” Robb said.
The Elks Lodge also recently put in new electrical outlets in order to better accommodate the bands that bring the space to life.
Robb believes the pandemic has sharpened perceptions of the hall as a place for social bonding.
“I think it’s resonating with people after Covid and they want to spend their time doing more meaningful things, and also enjoying their life, and that’s what the Elks is all about is having fun,” Robb said. “But then while we’re having fun we’re raising money and we’re putting it back into the community.”
The Elks Lodge has contributed financially to many organizations and causes over the years, including the North Okanagan Hospice Society, the North Okanagan Youth and Family Services Society and Access Revolution. Looking to the future, Robb says that spirit of giving back will carry on.
Upcoming music events at the Elks Lodge include Moni Funk on Oct. 14, Speakeasy with the Legendary Lake Monsters on Oct. 22, Del Rango and the D-Railers on Nov. 4 and New Years Eve with Rockin’ Horse Band on Dec. 31.