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Sam Steele Days will henceforth be known as Spirit of the Rockies

Name change aims to broaden festival’s regional appeal, celebrate area’s history, geography and growing diversity
Sam Steele Days — Cranbrook’s annual summer festival — will henceforth be known as “Spirit of the Rockies.” Barry Coulter photo

Cranbrook’s signature summer festival is moving forward into the future for 2023.

Since 1966, Sam Steele Days has kicked off the Cranbrook summer, where people from all over the region come to gather for food, music, sports, entertainment, and celebrate community spirit.

This year, the festival will have a new name — “Spirit of the Rockies.”

The decision to change the name of the long-running festival had been under consideration for some time, the Sam Steele Society said.

“We have been working on updating the festival name for over a year now,’ said Laura Kennedy, Member of the Society Executive.

It should be stressed that the name change does not imply a disrespect for local history. While the name Sam Steele Days honours the local achievements of Sam Steele — the Northwest Mounted Police officer who oversaw the Cranbrook area for a year (1887-1888), the Society is aiming to enhance the festival’s regional appeal, with greater reach and inclusivity for all Kootenay residents, old and new. It was felt a name change would further this aim.

This was confirmed in a survey the Sam Steele Committee sent out to residents last year, asking for suggestions on how to improve the festival. A significant number of respondents felt a name change would be appropriate.

“We started with a survey to get the community talking about what they would like to see for the future of the festival and we received some great feedback from our citizens,” Kennedy said.

In the fall of 2022, the Sam Steele Society, members of the Chamber of Commerce, community members and local businesspeople convened a meeting run by an outside moderator to brainstorm a new name for the festival. “Spirit of the Rockies” was ultimately chosen by consensus.

“Spirit of the Rockies” is meant to encompass all aspects of the Kootenay experience, including our history, but also our beautiful and famous geography, the diversity of our culture and population, our towns and villages, how we face our challenges in changing times, and our community spirit.

“When I think about the name Spirit of the Rockies it encompasses a lot of things for me,” Kennedy said. “The spirit of the people who have lived on this land before us, the spirit of those who built our great community, the spirit of our current rich, diversified population who call Cranbrook and area their home and that is what I want to celebrate – the spirit of all of our citizens that make this a great place to live, work and play”

The Sam Steele Society said in a press release that Spirit of the Rockies festival attendees “can expect the same high calibre of entertainment and activities as in past years.”

“Spirit of the Rockies” is set for June 16, 17 and 18.

“Without the ongoing commitment from volunteers and community partners, the festival would not exist,” the Society release said. “Moving forward, we are going to put new efforts and focus on bringing in new energy and volunteers to drive forward the Spirit of the Rockies Festival.”

Barry Coulter

About the Author: Barry Coulter

Barry Coulter had been Editor of the Cranbrook Townsman since 1998.
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