Sunshine Coast features shellfish in May; blues, jazz, and classical smorgasbords on June menu

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      (This article is sponsored by Sunshine Coast Tourism.)

      There’s a quirky new documentary called , by Tai Uhlmann and Theo Angell, which tells the story of U.S. draft dodgers who fled to the Sunshine Coast community of Lund to escape the Vietnam War. “You found utopia,” the tag line reads, “now what?”

      For Paul Kamon, executive director of , utopia is a good word to describe the region that he’s doing his best to promote to Lower Mainland residents.

      “Lund is one of the most beautiful small-craft harbours on the coast,” the former Vancouver resident told the Straight by phone. “This film has been made by the kids of the parents. It’s absolutely hilarious.”

      The southern Sunshine Coast extends from Langdale—which is accessible by ferry from Horseshoe Bay—to Earls Cove. Communities along the way include Gibsons, Roberts Creek, Sechelt, Halfmoon Bay, Pender Harbour, and Egmont. The northern Sunshine Coast can be reached by ferry from Earls Cove and from Comox, and includes Powell River and Lund.

      “It is the end of the road—the end of Highway 101,” Kamon said.

      The Lund Shellfish Festival even includes some gluten-free offerings.
      Tourism Powell River

      The best time to visit this region is May and June or in September and October because the weather is great and it’s not as busy as in the peak summer season. And there’s no shortage of events to lure Lower Mainland residents to the region.

      Longboarders have already circled May 19 to 24 on their calendars for in Pender Harbour.

      From May 26 to 28, the 10th annual will take place in, you guessed it, the town made famous for its draft-dodger past. It will include cooking demonstrations, musical performances, artisan and craft booths, a kids zone, and even some gluten-free chowders.

      Kamon calls the region “the artisan coast” because there are no major hotel chains, but rather independently owned and operated accommodations of all types.

      “It’s an artists haven,” he said. “We have the highest concentration of artists in Canada.”

      Soulful vocalist Dawn Pemberton will funk up the Pender Harbour Blues Festival.

      People from across the region will be gathering at the from June 2 to 4 to hear such acts as Brickhouse, Steve Kozak, the Grand Koolios, Joe Stanton, and Diane Lines, who was the pianist-accompanist to Michael Bublé.

      Others performers include vocalist Dawn Pemberton and singer-songwriter-guitarists Arsen Shomakhov and Jim Foster.

      The Gibsons Landing Jazz Festival has a lively street fest.
      Grant Simmons

      Two weeks later is the , from June 16 to 18. Some of the acts are free, such as the Creek Big Band with Crystal Spence, Celso Machado, and the Rakish Angles, who will all perform in Winegarden Park. At the main-stage street-festival event, audiences will be treated to the Daniel Brubeck Quartet, the Katherine Penfold Quartet, and the Blaine Dunaway Quartet.

      The Daniel Brubeck Quartet will play the Gibsons Landing Jazz Festival in June.
      Grant Simmons

      Lovers of classical music will want to head to Powell River between June 12 and June 24 for .

      The event’s marketing and communications manager, Sarah Barton-Bridges, told the Straight by phone that 70 applications are accepted each year from talented students around the world.

      “We’ve got guest artists from orchestras around the world who come and teach them,” she explained. “So during the weekdays, we’ve got master classes that are open to the public for a $5 admission. They get to see a very intimate setting of the guest artists instructing the students, giving them tips on auditions, and maybe doing some practices.”

      These are often followed by student recitals at venues in Powell River. The students also perform as an orchestra at PRISMA on the Beach on June 14.

      “We’ve got this beautiful bandstand down at Willingdon Beach,” Barton-Bridges said.

      Cellist and Moscow Symphony music director Arthur Arnold is the driving creative force behind the PRISMA concerts.

      Some of the big draws at PRISMA are chamber-music concerts with the guest artists at the Evergreen Theatre on June 22, as well as symphony evening concerts on June 17 and 24.

      PRISMA is spearheaded by Arthur Arnold, a Sunshine Coast resident who spends part of the year as music director of the Moscow Symphony. Arnold is also a cellist, just like local NDP MLA Nicholas Simons.

      “They’ve had some goofy cello playoffs at some of our events,” Barton-Bridges said with a laugh.

      For more information on the 180-kilometre stretch from Langdale to Lund, visit .

      (This article is sponsored by Sunshine Coast Tourism.)