It all started back in 1975. Revelstoke was booming with an influx of workers on the Revelstoke Dam, which continued to ramp up.
Revelstoke had an active Highland Dance scene and a small band – two pipers, two side drummers and a bass.
Current Revelstoke Highlanders Pipe Major Archie McConnachie said the group decided to build the band, finding and training pipers from amongst the many newcomers to town.
By 1978 they had 22 members and held their first annual Spring Fling, a weekend show that attracted pipe bands from across the Interior and beyond.
The tradition has continued since then – but the Spring Fling began rotating between participating communities in the 1980s. It was last hosted in Revelstoke in 2003.
“[The Spring Fling] is a fun thing, but over time it has actually improved us,” McConnachie said.
The event starts on Saturday, May 4, with a parade at 12 noon down Mackenzie Avenue to Queen Elizabeth Park.
The main competition takes place in Queen Elizabeth Park. This includes mass band tunes including Scotland the Brave, Green Hills, Bonnie Dundee, Steamboat and more.
Community members are welcome to the dinner performances, which include skits, dance competitions and live music by the Maritime Kitchen Party. The dinner at the Revelstoke Community Centre ($30) starts at 5 p.m. Tickets are available at the community centre.
The Céilidh – a traditonal Gaelic social gathering – starts at 9 p.m. and costs $5.
Participating bands this year include the Shuswap Pipes & Drums from Salmon Arm (which will include members of the Revelstoke Highlanders), the Kelowna Pipe Band, the Kootenay Kilte Pipe Band from Nelson, the Kimberley Pipe Band, the Kamloops Pipe Band (current Spring Fling trophy holders), the Kalamalka Highlanders, the Arran Campbell Memorial Youth Pipe Band, the Grand Forks Pipes & Drums and the Trail Pipe Band.
Current members of the Revelstoke Highlanders are Archie McConnachie (pipe major), Louisa Dubasov (band manager), Shane Grant, Jesse Reid, Shirley Russell, Rachel Kelly, Ken Jones and Chrystal Tebby.
The Revelstoke Highlanders are always on the lookout for new members. They meet to practice on Thursdays from 6:30–8:30 p.m. at the Revestoke Legion, and sometimes on Saturdays at 4 p.m.
“All they need is a willingness to get at it,” McConnachie said. The senior band members are available to teach you. For pipers, expect a year or more of practice before you get the hang of it.