In what is expected to be one of the biggest gatherings in the Lytton area since the 2021 wildfires, more than 200 former employees will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Kumsheen Rafting Resort this long weekend.
The yearlong celebration will kick off this Victoria Day long weekend, with 2023 marking 50 years since Bernie Fandrich first started rafting down the river.
“Imagine nearly 300,000 raft trips, more than 700 employees, some epic love stories and even a few multigenerational workers at British Columbia’s premier rafting destination and you’ll begin to understand what it means for Lytton’s Kumsheen Rafting Resort to turn 50 years old,” reads a release ahead of the event.
Kumsheen has become a major employer in the area, starting with Fandrich’s original adventure company that featured one raft, one guide and one Volkswagen van parked next to the river.
More than 200 former employees are set to return to Kumsheen this weekend to “swap stories, share past experiences, and take another run down the mighty Thompson River.”
And this year is expected to be big for Kumsheen as the resort is expanding operations.
General manager Andrew Fandrich said they’ve purchased Shaw Springs, adding new RV spots and new accommodation and a new launch point for our trips.
It follows the devastating wildfire where much of the nearby Village of Lytton was decimated in June 2021, but despite that, business has rebounded.
Andrew, the son of founder Bernie, said they’re optimistic the former operators of Jade Springs will open a new restaurant on their property later this summer. Jade Springs was one of many businesses lost to the blaze.
For Bernie, this weekend will be a chance to catch up with old friends and colleagues “and to take another run down the river together.”
“It’ll be fun to see what some of these old rascals are up to.”
The resort will be closed this weekend for the activities, but Andrew said 2023 is “already shaping up to be a great season.” That’s despite serious flooding elsewhere in the province.
“Although some of the Thompson’s tributaries have flooded, the main river is actually flowing normally for this time of year. It’s great springtime rafting conditions.”