The sounds of silence

Remembering the Kimberley International Old Time Accordion Championships, now that they are no more.

Carolyn Grant

It’s summertime. The weather has finally settled into what we expect, tourists are out and about, locals are heading to campgrounds on the weekends.

It’s just a perfect East Kootenay summer.

But here in Kimberley something has been missing. At first I wasn’t quite sure what it was ­— why did I feel that I was missing something?

But then it occurred to me. I am hearing nothing when I should be hearing accordions.

This is my first summer without KIOTAC, the Kimberley International Old Time Accordion Championships.

The championships would have wrapped by now, winner of the ultimate prize, the Happy Hans trophy, would have bowed to the audience and perhaps played one more tune.

I would have spent the week reporting playdown scores like a sports writer­: “It went right down to the wire with Michael Bridge edging out Alicia Baker by a squeeze.”  Good times.

I would have wandered through the Platzl every day looking for photographs of smiling people, of which there were plenty.

And sitting behind my desk, I would still hear the faint strains of accordion music wafting in from the Platzl.

Of course, I would also be stuck behind a 55-foot RV proceeding down Wallinger at about 10 kph. It was always a little harder to get around Kimberley during KIOTAC, but that’s a small price to pay for what the Fest brought to Kimberley.

For almost 40 years — 39 to be exact — KIOTAC brought people by the thousands to Kimberley for one week in July. They camped on the streets and in parking lots and the locals grumbled. But I like to think that underneath the occasional grumble there was a real appreciation of what KIOTAC meant to Kimberley.

KIOTAC was Kimberley. While travelling I have often told people I was from Kimberley and a lot of the time the response was, ‘Kimberley? Isn’t that where they have the accordion festival?’

Yes, it is. Or rather, it was. KIOTAC put Kimberley on the map. In its first year there were two categories of competition; that grew to 23. The first year there were 16 competitors; that peaked at over 200.

A half million dollars in prize money and bursaries was handed out over the years of KIOTAC. One million dollars was paid out to performers. And $150,000 was given to local charities. And perhaps most impressive, over 100,000 volunteer hours were given. That does not include the tireless efforts of the KIOTAC committee members. That’s just 100,000 hours from community members who helped out for the week.

Pretty darn impressive.

And it’s all over now. People from the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations understand what KIOTAC really meant to Kimberley and are working hard to find ways to bring people into the Platzl. The First Saturdays concept looks like a winner and hopefully will build in the coming years. And there is JulyFest, which is coming up quickly — always a busy, and profitable, weekend for Kimberley.

But as I sit at my desk and ponder the sounds of silence from the Platzl, I miss KIOTAC — funny hats, lederhosen, snarled traffic and all.

Carolyn Grant is Editor of the Kimberley Daily Bulletin

Just Posted

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

1914
It happened this week in 1914

June 13 - 19: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers… Continue reading

Prince Charles Secondary School
School District 8 votes in favour of name change for Secondary School in Creston

In an act of reconciliation, a new name will be chosen for Prince Charles Secondary School

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison. Photo courtesy Conservative Party of Canada.
MP Morrison appointed to parliamentary national security committee

Kootenay-Columbia parliamentarian one of five candidates appointed to national security committee

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Most Read