The Festival

The Ryga Festival Society is a registered charitable society, with the aim to follow George Ryga’s inspiration and foster creativity and creative expression in any art form. Most of Ryga’s plays deal with social issues, including “The Ecstasy of Rita Joe.” There was always music, discussion, and a lively exchange of ideas in the Ryga family home, and the Ryga family always welcomed visitors from near and far to their home surrounded by orchards in Summerland. Inspired by this, the Ryga Festival includes storytelling, singing, creative writing, acting, playwriting, and more.

Last year, we explored agricultural stories, stories of “weathering the storm,” how music can inspire us in challenging times; we celebrated R &B music from Celeigh Cardinal and soaring melodies from Catherine MacLellan; experiencing new plays, poetry and non-fiction writing from local playwrights, writers and internationally renowned authors, and more. With so much to enjoy, we ensured as many people as possible were able to attend with our Pay-What-You-Choose pricing and multi-ticket discounts.                            We look forward to sharing the arts with you here in Summerland this year! Please take care, and we’ll see you soon.

Trista Bassett

General Manager

As an artist, musician and performer, Trista was thrilled to be invited to join the Ryga Arts Festival team as Festival Administrator in 2021. She has since been promoted to General Manager and looks forward to a fantastic year ahead. Trista brings to the festival a deep love of the arts and years of experience as the previous Executive Director of Gallery Vertigo in Vernon. She would like to thank the Summerland and Okanagan communities for continuing to support this amazing and unique festival.

Board of Directors
& Advisory Council

Over the past several years, the Ryga Festival Society has brought together a distinguished group of Canadians to form its Advisory Council. Members include Artists, patrons and administrators, from the Arts, business and around the culture. We're proud to have a well-rounded representation of viewpoints, to help guide our festival.

Board of Directors

Cal Meiklejohn
Dorthea Atwater
Caroline McKay
Jan Schumacher
Jennifer Cockrall-King
Trista Bassett
General Manager
Donna Wong-Juliani
Dawn Bassett
Peter Hay
Bryan Laver
Ann Doyon

Advisory Council

Ann Mortifee
Victor Davies
Gina Payzant
Don Rubin
Tanya Ryga

Catherine MacLellan

Catherine MacLellan, one of Canadian folk music’s true gems, returns with her anticipated seventh album, COYOTE. This self-produced release is a travelogue through heartbreak, loss and the joy of life.
COYOTE contains 14 songs that are reflective, poignant and hopeful. They were all recorded and produced by Catherine at her home studio in PEI.
“It’s a dream home, a big old farm house with a long history of music. In the early days, there were big kitchen parties, with someone always rocking the piano and people square dancing. When I moved here, I really got the sense the house wanted things to be happening, and music to be played.”
COYOTE adds some of that traditional East Coast instrumentation of accordions, fiddles and bouzouki. The songs touch on themes of change, vulnerability, and letting yourself be seen; the good, the bad, the pretty, and the ugly.
The past four years have been a busy and important time for Catherine, she set aside her own songwriting to celebrate the life and legacy of her late legendary father, Gene MacLellan. During this time, she recorded and released the album, If It’s Alright With You: The Songs of Gene MacLellan; produced a stage show by the same name; and an award winning documentary, The Song and the Sorrow – all in tribute to him. Gene MacLellan is recognized as one of Canada’s most celebrated songwriters with worldwide hits including, Snowbird made famous by Anne Murray, and Put Your Hand in the Hand by Ocean.
Though the acclaim for Catherine’s own work was already significant, it reached new levels when she took home a Juno Award in 2015 for her standout album, The Raven’s Sun. This was an intimate look into her musical work with long-time collaborator, Chris Gauthier.  Catherine has also been recognized with multiple East Coast Music Awards, Canadian Folk Music Awards, and Music PEI Awards.
Catherine MacLellan, is a musician’s musician, respected by her peers since releasing Dark Dream Midnight, her first solo album, in 2004. As with many performers, Catherine feels most at home on stage. That moment of connection is what matters most.
“Perhaps we don’t have the same story but we all share the same emotions and many of the same experiences.  Being able to share my songs and stories with people and finding that connection point is what it’s all about for me”
Going to a Catherine MacLellan show feels much like catching up with an old friend, having those long-heartfelt conversations that mean so much.
For publicity inquiries, product request or interview opportunities, refer to Catherine’s contact listings.

Funders, Sponsors & Partners

We gratefully acknowledge the help and support of all our members in making the Ryga Arts Festival possible.



Community Partners