In what was expected to be one of the biggest gatherings in the Lytton area since the 2021 wildfires, more than 200 former employees kicked off the 50th anniversary of Kumsheen Rafting Resort in Lytton, B.C., over the Victoria Day long weekend.
The year-long celebration marks 50 years since Bernie Fandrich first began rafting down the river.
“Imagine nearly 300,000 raft trips, more than 700 employees, some epic love stories and even a few multigenerational workers at British Columbia’s premier rafting destination and you’ll begin to understand what it means for Lytton’s Kumsheen Rafting Resort to turn 50 years old,” reads a release ahead of the event.
Kumsheen has become a major employer in the area, starting with Fandrich’s original adventure company that featured one raft, one guide and one Volkswagen van parked next to the river.
The 200+ former employees returned to Kumsheen to “swap stories, share past experiences and take another run down the mighty Thompson River.”
And this year is expected to be big for Kumsheen as the resort is expanding operations.
General manager Andrew Fandrich said they’ve purchased Shaw Springs, adding new RV spots, new accommodations and a new launch point for trips.
It follows the devastating wildfire where much of the nearby Village of Lytton was destroyed in June 2021, but despite that, business has rebounded.
Andrew, son of founder Bernie, said they’re optimistic the former operators of Jade Springs will open a new restaurant on their property later this summer. Jade Springs was one of many businesses lost to the blaze.
And 2023 is “already shaping up to be a great season,” he said.
“Although some of the Thompson’s tributaries have flooded, the main river is actually flowing normally for this time of year. It’s great springtime rafting conditions.”
For Bernie, the weekend was a chance to catch up with old friends and colleagues “and to take another run down the river together.”
“It’ll be fun to see what some of these old rascals are up to.”
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