Revitalizing the legion
By Deborah Pfeiffer - Castanet - Saturday, January 16, 2016 7:08 pm
When Ivo Jaager took over as president of the Penticton branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, he and his wife started looking at ways to revitalize the facility.
They found their answer in live music.
"We were looking at ways to rebrand and renew it, and we just started with music," said Barbara Jaager.
The goal is to bring in young people, and encourage them to become members, as many veterans who come to this legion, and others nationwide, are getting older.
"We are encouraging the younger people to make the legion their own, and take out membership because the average age of veteran members is 68, with 20 per cent over the age of 80," said Ivo Jaager. "Legions across Canada know this, and we are probably leading the pack with what we are doing here."
Helping their cause is you don't have to be a veteran or a descendent of a veteran to be a member, anymore, said Jaager.
The first thing they did to liven things up, was offer a drop in jam competition on Tuesday night, at the Martin Street building, where people would come and get points.
It was slow at first, but as word of mouth got out, more musicians started showing up to play.
The night is now just a jam night, hosted by the band El Surf Cats.
The band typically plays the first set, then they jump into the jamming, said Barbara Jaager.
:The fun part is you never know who is going to walk through the doors,"she said. "We've had some famous people gracing the legion's humble stage, since we started doing it."
The Tuesday night jams have been so well received, that they now have a house band, TR2, playing classic rock on Thursday nights. They also bring in a featured guest artist.
Entertainment is also offered at Friday night dinners at the Legion.
"It's amazing, it's a little overwhelming because it has taken off so fast," said Barbara Jaager. "People are loving the new face of the legion, that we are alive, vibrant and happening."