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Everything set for Penticton Peach Festival kickoff

The Maier sisters, Sydney (left) and Rowyn, were all dolled up for their wagon ride in last year
The Maier sisters, Sydney (left) and Rowyn, were all dolled up for their wagon ride in last year's Kiddies Day Parade which is always a popular part of the annual Penticton Peach Festival which kicks off Wednesday and continues through Sunday. The largest parade in the B.C. Interior, the Peters Bros. Grand Parade takes place Saturday at 10 a.m. and the Downtown Penticton Association Kiddies Day parade begins at 11:30 a.m. the following day.
— image credit: Mark Brett/Western News

Combine one part top-notch entertainment with another part favourable weather conditions and it’s likely this year’s Penticton Peach Festival will attract some large crowds.

PeachFest president Don Kendall said in terms of the musical line-up over the event’s 67-year history, it’s first-rate.

“We’ve got the best entertainment lineup we’ve ever had,” said Kendall. “We’ve got great entertainment all day but the headliners we have this year are at a level we’ve never had before.”

Wednesday night, Canadian country band Emerson Drive performs on the Peters Bros Main Stage at Okanagan Lake Park. Opening for them is Canadian country singer Livy Jeanne. On Thursday, Canadian party band Trooper plays the main stage. Both shows are presented courtesy of Peters Bros. Construction.

Friday is Tribute Night featuring Forever Young (Neil Young tribute), High Voltage (AC/DC tribute) and U4 (U2 tribute), while Saturday’s headliner is Canadian band The Stampeders. Also on Saturday is the Los Angeles-based band Checkpoint Charlie which brings its pop-rock sound to the main stage starting at 7:45 p.m.

Kendall emphasized people need to show up early in order to find a good place to sit and avoid disappointment.

“We’re expecting huge crowds,” he said. “I really want to stress to people that if you want to come and see the shows at night you need to get here early.”

Music director for Peach Festival Bill Kolter pointed to the variety of things happening at the park such as the Trampoline Wall and Power Track Show, hypnotist William James, Desna St. Paul Ukrainian Dancers, the Black Widow Rope Skippers, the Regals with Larry Branson (Roy Orbison tribute artist), The Legendary Lake Monsters 11-piece show band, Marty Edwards and the Revival (60s, 70s and Kenny Rogers tribute), The Phonix, a funk, soul and rhythm and blues band and Irish folk, classic rock band Killarney. Winners of the Fresh B.C. Talent Quest will also be showcased.

“There’s something for everyone,” said Kolter.

A new event this year is Wednesday’s Peach Bin Races sponsored by the Downtown Penticton Association. Teams will race decorated peach bins along the 100-block of Main Street starting at noon with proceeds going to charity.

The Peachfest Square Dance Festival happens Wednesday through Saturday at the South Main Drop-In Centre. More than 500 participants are expected from Western Canada and the United States.

Things move to Skaha Lake beach for Thursday’s Sandcastle Competition from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. with prizes being awarded to the best corporate team, family-friends team and youth team.

On Friday at 7 p.m. at the Cleland Theatre, Miss Penticton 2014 will be crowned.

Friday to Sunday features the PenTown Throwdown skateboard/BMX event at the Penticton Youth Park with $3,300 up for grabs. Friday also marks the opening of the three-day Peachfest Aboriginal Cultural Village & Powwow at Gyro Park.

On Saturday, the Peters Bros. Grand Parade starts at 10 a.m. and runs along Main Street and west along Lakeshore Drive. Start the day at the Elk’s Pancake Breakfast beginning at 7 a.m. The lodge is located at 343 Ellis St.

The Kiddies Day Parade goes Sunday with judging happening at 11:15 a.m. at City Centre parking lot before children begin making their way along Main Street to Okanagan Lake Park.

Shooting Star Amusements will have rides and amusement for all ages and the annual Sheila Bishop Wooden Bat Tournament returns for an 11th year.

Kendall said the sun and heat enhance the five-day event, however he noted that weather is rarely a factor during Peachfest with only one rained-out day in the past five years.

“The forecast is great so I think we’ll be having huge crowds everyday,” said Kendall.

Throughout the festival, residents and visitors using public transit can take advantage of extended hours offered by the City of Penticton and BC Transit.

Route No. 5 (Main Street to Skaha Lake) is being modified to better serve festival attendees. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, evening hours will be extended to midnight from the standard 6 p.m. Sunday service on Route No. 5 is offered from 7 a.m. to midnight.

Please note regular fares apply.

Both the Penticton Farmers’ Market and Downtown Community Markets will be moved to accommodate the parade: The farmers’ market is located along Westminster Avenue W. between Main and Martin streets while the community market is at the 200 - 400 blocks of Martin Street.

The markets run from 8:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.  For more details and times visit www.peachfest.com.

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