This year participants attending the 8th Annual Columbia Basin Culture Tour can take advantage of four local artist and cultural centres. The Culture Tour is a free self-directed tour of local artist studios, cultural centres, and heritage sites throughout the entire Columbia Basin region.

(The tour) gives people an opportunity to visit artists who maybe dont necessarily have their studios open, also visit museums and galleries, and get the inside story on some of the historical displays and artifacts at some of the historical sites, said Natasha Smith, administrative assistant for the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance.

In the Columbia Valley, the four sites to discover on the tour are the

Sandpiper Studio, Junes Originals, Pynelogs Cultural Centre & Art Gallery and the Purcell Mountain Painters. Each stop features a different artist and their respective mediums.

We do have such a wealth of talent and history and cultural places to visit. So this just really celebrates and features what we have here in the Columbia Basin, said Ms. Smith.

For the artists, this tour is one of the biggest events of the year which they spend weeks preparing for. Many of the stops have demonstrations, workshops and even studio sales on artwork. The local stops in the valley have planned different demonstrations for people to come in and enjoy.

Sandpiper Studio, theyre going to be having live glass working demonstrations from 11a.m. to 2 p.m. on both days. Theyre located in Windermere on the Kootenay #3 Road. Theyre a husband-and-wife team, Gordon and Julie Webster, and they founded their studio in 2009. Their work is using traditional glass making techniques yet their aesthetics are very modern. They produce beautiful glass objects, definitely worth a visit, said Ms. Smith.

In Invermere, the Purcell Mountain Painters a group of 31 members have live painting demonstrations planned and even a tea with the painters. Columbia Valley tour participants can also expect to see the latest exhibit at Pynelogs and a variety of artworks by June at Junes Originals in Windermere.

June is a master printmaker who has just become a painter. Shes been painting now since 2010. Shes been working on acrylics as well. So youll get the opportunity to see original woodcut prints at her studio and also a real range of her beautiful wildlife and landscape-based paintings, said Ms. Smith.

In order to participate as stops along the Culture Tour, artists and venues had to register online by mid-April.

Your focus has to be arts, culture or heritage in terms of what you do. Thats what qualifies you to do the tour, that is the focus, said Ms. Smith.

The tour was started eight years ago by the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance (CKCA) steering committee, an elected group of individuals with a background in arts, culture, and heritage, with funding from the Columbia Basin Trust making it more affordable for artists and venues to participate.

The tour will run Saturday, August 13th and Sunday, August 14th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with 86 stops across the Columbia and Kootenay region. Columbia Basin Culture Tour directories are available at Visitor Information Centres or online at