Our picks for next weekend's Kamloops Thrive Festival

It seems like only yesterday we were reading about Kamloops Thrive Festival's big launch. Now the festival is a mere week away - with registration for many of the workshops closing on Wednesday.

Say what!? You still haven't picked which Thrive components to attend?

Well, there's no need to panic. Our Spotlight team has pored long and hard over the Thrive Festival's schedule to help make life a little easier for the last-minute ticket buyers among us.

Consider this your personalized À la carte Spotlight Thrive package:

CHOICE NO. 1- SHANE KOYCZAN

DETAILS- Koyczan is the superstar spoken-word poet who has gained fans worldwide since his performance in the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics. He performs on Friday, June 21, at 8 p.m. at Thompson Rivers University's Irving K. Barber Centre as part of the Thrive's concert series.

WHY HE RANKS- Koyczan is a homegrown talent from Penticton, but more than that he's just plain powerful to watch. No one recites the spoken word quite like he does. Koyczan is mesmerizing and explosive all at once - an experience well worth the $30 ticket price.

CHOICE NO. 2- PASTA MAKING

DETAILS- Attend this four-hour workshop on Friday, Saturday or Sunday (8 a.m. to noon) and learn how to prepare fresh pasta dough from the experts in the TRU Culinary Arts department. The session covers all the basics including the dos and don'ts of preparing, cooking, matching, and presenting different pasta dishes. Space is limited, though, to 12 participants each day. The cost is $140.

WHY IT RANKS- Actually, any of the culinary eventsin the Thrive Festival could make our top-five list. If pasta isn't your thing, try the four-hour baking workshop or the four-hour sausage and jerky workshop or watch area chefs go head-to-head in the Thrive Iron Chef competition during the Thrive Expo on Saturday and Sunday.

CHOICE NO. 3- JEN SOOKFONG LEE

DETAILS- This Vancouver author is part of Thrive's exciting literature lineup. She is teaching two workshops at TRU: When Memoir Inspires Fiction (Saturday, from 1:30 to 3 p.m.) and Turning Great Ideas into Great Novels (Sunday, from 1:30 to 3 p.m.). Each workshop is $35.

WHY SHE RANKS- "She represents some of the strongest female voices we have," said Thrive Festival manager Amanda Lynne Ballard. "Jen is a huge name is the literary world, and especially on the West Coast." Radio listeners will remember Lee from her job as host of CBC Radio One's weekly Writing Column, Westcoast Words. Readers will know her books well - The Better Mother, a finalist for the city of Vancouver Book Award, The End of East and Shelter, a novel for young adults.

CHOICE NO. 4- ADAM HART

DETAILS- Hart is teaching a workshop at TRU on Sunday, June 23, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., called Cooking for Energy. Cost is $70. He's part of the festival's healthy living component.

WHY HE RANKS- Hart is a popular speaker and chef, who knows more than anyone about the power of food. Take his workshop and you'll learn about five superfoods that can boost your energy in seconds. You'll also learn how to make your own energy bars and you'll walk away with a mini recipe book when it's all over.

CHOICE NO. 5- THE THRIVE EXPO

DETAILS- This is the big two-day event, running Saturday and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the TRU Campus Activity Centre. This is where you'll find the Iron Chef competition amid dozens of displays and interactive elements covering art, film, books, music and more. Admission is $20.

WHY IT RANKS- If you only take in one part of the festival, this should be it. This is where all of the festival's components - music, food, gardening, literature, photography and fine arts come together. We suspect the Thrive Coffee House to be a popular stopping point for participants. That's where you'll catch 16 local singers and bands performing, including our favourites Jodi Doidge, The Back Alley Sallies and Johnson Sandwich.

Of course, there's much more to see and do at the Thrive Festival, beyond these five choices. The extensive schedule can be found online at http://www.thrivefestival.ca.

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