From rock and roller derby to royalty and jazz the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, has hosted it all.
An afternoon of activities is planned for Aug. 22 to celebrate the golden anniversary of the country’s first free-standing facility of its kind.
On Aug. 4, 50 years ago, the centre, at the time appropriately named the Peach Bowl, first opened its doors to the public. Ever since it has continued to be a substantial economic and interest generator for the city.
“It’s an incredible milestone for this building,” said Dean Clarke, regional vice president and general manager, of Spectra, which operates the facility. “When you really dig into the history of that building it’s tremendous. Queen Elizabeth ll was there, it’s something to be very proud of and we could not let this anniversary go by without celebrating it.
“Certainly if you were to spend the time digging into all the events that have gone through that facility they could tell quite a story.”
According to Clarke, another reason for the ceremony is to get as many people possible together to share their memories about the centre as part of a legacy for future generations.
“I don’t know if one person could tell that story and that’s why we need to have the anniversary. We need to see the people who were there in the past and have them talk about it and celebrate it because it’s one of things that separates our city from other Okanagan cities,” he said.
The highlight of the celebrations, which run from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the centre’s lobby, will be a special art reveal of metal sculptor Clint George’s commissioned work, designed and built in the shop at his home on the Penticton Indian Reserve.
“We’re really excited about this art piece, especially with Clint being local,” said Clarke. “Also, our co-operation with the Penticton Indian Band and how we’ve been able to mine aboriginal business through them. It’s been a real focus for us.
“If you are to take a look about the things we brag about which is two mountains, two lakes, sunset, that’s the type of look we were going for. I think we hit it.”
The sculpture is already in place, suspended from the ceiling in the north lobby.
“It has a presence inside the building but it’s not overwhelming. It’s really quite elegant. He captured the vision, it’s awesome,” said Clarke.
As well, there will be a large poster the public can sign that will be put inside the art piece and opened in 2065 on the 100th anniversary.
According to Clarke, the centre is an integral part of the overall complex that includes the South Okanagan Events Centre, Memorial Arena and the Penticton Curling Club.
“We have large special events or consumer shows that come into our facilities that would only be possible with that combination. If we ever lost that 60,000-square-foot space that would be a big issue,” he said.
Penticton now hosts the largest RV show in B.C., which utilizes the centre that also provides facilities for the Young Stars hockey tournament and other special events.
“I don’t see it (centre) going away, I don’t see Memorial Arena going away,” said Clarke. “I think the future is an interesting one for the convention centre, I think we need to modernize it, I think we need to address some of the shortfalls that the facility might present right now.”
He described the current council as “innovative thinkers” who understand the need to modernize the facility to attract more, and bigger business to the city through facility improvements.
“There needs to be a future plan, not only for all of Penticton and where we’re taking this community but where were going to take the Trade Centre over the next five to 10 to 20 years,” said Clarke.