Festival highlights South Okanagan’s natural attraction

Meadowlark Festival returns to the South Okanagan May 16-20

The Meadowlark Festival has been reminding people to get in touch with nature and experience, discover and explore their backyard in the South Okanagan for 16 years.

“You can’t beat it. We live in this really fabulous beautiful place that we kind of take for granted, but every now and again it is nice to be reminded what a special and unique spot the Okanagan is,” said Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance chair Sally Kilburg of why the festival has been so popular over the years.

With over 90 environmental tours and events, the Meadowlark Nature Festival returns to the South Okanagan May 16 to 20, taking people from Canada’s unique desert to the alpine meadows high above Okanagan Lake. The guided walks, hikes, bird watching field trips, horseback tours, bike rides, art exhibits and other events are designed to be fun and informative for people of all ages and abilities.

“There are so many people who live in the City of Penticton and have never heard of the Meadowlark Festival and it amazes me,” said Kilburg. “It is such an amazing way to get to know your immediate environment and learn things about it. This allows people access to places they would otherwise not be able to see and also access to places they drive by everyday but might not know what an amazing hike it is.”

Last year the festival drew in about 2,500 people to its events. Kilburg said she learns something new each time she attends because of the interesting facet of people that guide the tours and take part in them.

“The people that attend often have so much additional knowledge that they bring to the hikes. That never ceases to amaze me,” agreed Sharon Mansiere, a board member at OSCA. “They are birders, botanists, astronomers, all these different people with all this different expertise that come to attend this event. You think you are going on a hike about plants but little did you know, all of sudden it is geology walk and a birding walk as well. That is what is really neat.”

An opening keynote presentation on May 16 features speaker Michael Ableman of the Centre for the Arts, Ecology and Agriculture at Foxglove Farm on Salt Spring Island. A panel discussion will follow regarding ways to encourage and embrace sustainable land-use methods and policies in the Okanagan Similkameen.

The Meadowlark Festival is produced annually by the Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance to encourage people of all ages to experience, discover and explore their natural environment.

Terry Isaac will be the feature artist for the 2013 festival and has donated his signed, acrylic painting On The Fence (valued at $3,400) which will be raffled off during the celebration banquet on May 18, with all money raised going right back into the 2014 festival.

“My artwork is all influenced by nature, and the Meadowlark Festival promotes nature in our area, so I am really happy to be part of that,” said Isaac, who moved to Penticton in 2007.

Tickets are available online at www.MeadowlarkFestival.bc.ca, and the full list of tours and their descriptions can also be found on the website.

Tickets can be purchased in person every Wednesday and Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. at the Shatford Centre. Tickets can also be purchased with a credit card by phone at 250-492-5275 during office hours only.

Anyone that is interested in volunteering for the festival can email chair@oscra.org.