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Banff Harvest Festival is back with music, a market and memories

Music and a market, Harvest Festival returns this weekend in Banff. 

BANFF – Once green leaves are changing into a golden yellow and the warm summer air is cooling off, it can only mean a community staple in Banff is right around the corner.

Harvest Festival, known for showcasing a wide range of local musical talent, is Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 9-10) at Central Park in Banff from noon to 9 p.m. 

Admission is free and there will be a beer garden, food and a market in the vicinity.

Among the mic masters and string specialists ready to stage this year are a trio of talented siblings, pianists Anya and Vasylisa and guitarist who Gregory Nikolenko will make their Harvest Festival debuts Saturday in solo acts starting at 1 p.m.

The Ukrainian siblings were highly sought after to perform this year.

“We’re always glad to participate,” said Anya. “Lisa is very outgoing, Gregory likes his guitar playing … it’s always interesting memories.”

Living in Canmore, but originally from Dnipro, the third largest city in Ukraine, the Nikolenkos started learning their respective instruments between the ages of four and seven at a music school following regular school.

Vasylisa, 14, and Gregory, 12, are still taking online classes with their original teachers. Anya, on the other hand, is already a graduate of the school. Nowadays, she is often showcasing her set of skills at local churches and festivals.

“I’m more into freestyle, so when I hear a song or melody, I always like to play it on piano without notes because I never wanted to be a professional pianist,” said Anya, 22.

“I’m still figuring out my set [for Saturday], but I have different songs I like to play at home by myself. So [when I was approached to play Harvest Festival] I thought, ‘why not?’”

Big sis praised her younger siblings’ abilities, saying Vasylisa is at a near professional level, while Gregory is always with guitar in hand.

Starting piano at age five, Vasylisa has prepared pieces for the Banff audience from composers Niels Gade, Johann Sebastian Bach and Frédéric Chopin. 

“I’m going to be playing classical music, there is going to be a Ukrainian piece, but it’s all going to be classical,” said Vasylisa.

The gifted pianist sisters have played in front of a Banff crowd before at St. George-in-the-Pines as part of The Singing Tree Music Series last December.

However, Harvest Festival will be Gregory’s first showcase in town.

“I think I’m going to play Pirates of the Caribbean, the Pink Panther and maybe some blues,” said Gregory. “If I have some time left, I’m going to play other songs that I have.”

Following the Nikolenkos performances Saturday, the lineup includes Santiego at 2 p.m., Not Matty at 3 p.m., Andrew Wrightable at 4 p.m., The Ramblin’ Hey, Ho, Ha’s at 5 p.m., Larz and Liz at 6:30 p.m., and No Sudden Moves at 7:30 p.m.

On Sunday, Heather Jean Jordan kicks off the performances at 1 p.m., Arn Smit is at 2 p.m., Tyler Woods at 3 p.m.; Andrew Staygold at 4 p.m.; Northern Quarter at 5 p.m.; Zebra at 6 p.m., Bow Valley Bandits at 7 p.m., Bawang! at 7:45 p.m., and Kyle Pullan at 8:15 p.m.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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