Peach Festival the fruit of volunteer labour

The Penticton Peach Festival has come a long way in its 68 years, but if there is one constant, it is families making memories.

Whether it is the sandcastle contest (left)

Whether it is the sandcastle contest (left)

The Penticton Peach Festival has come a long way in its 68 years, but if there is one constant, it is families making memories.

Don Kendall, Peachfest president, said that is his favourite aspect of all the four action-packed days, Aug. 5 to 9 this year.

“Oh definitely. We hear great stories,” said Kendall.

Among those include a family who comes from Edmonton every year and walked up to volunteers to thank them for doing such a great job. A motel operator has a family coming this August that has already asked for next year’s festival dates so they can pre-book their rooms.

“You know you go down to the park at 9 p.m. and see grandparents, parents and kids enjoying great entertainment and all together. I love seeing that park full at night,” said Kendall. “And, it’s all free. You can never see entertainment like we have for free. It really is an incredible thing. People have taken a lot of pride in what Peachfest has become and that is why it is such an amazing event today.”

With the help of sponsors like David Kampe, owner of Peters Bros., Peachfest can bring in well-known headlining acts. This year that includes Barney Bentall and the Legendary Hearts (Aug. 5), AC/DC and ZZ Top tribute bands, The Phonix, George Canyon and Canadian rock band 54-40 — they packed Okanagan Lake Park with one of the largest crowds in Peachfest history in 2012.

“How many people couldn’t afford to see acts like that? This way not only can they afford to go but they can take their whole family down to the park, have a great night and join thousands of others having a great time,” said Kendall. “You go see names like that anywhere else and you would probably pay $40 a ticket.”

Peach Festival receives hundreds of performer applications each year and organizers try to ensure locals also get their chance on the stage. This year that includes Penticton’s Beamer Wigley, who will open the country themed night ending with George Canyon on Aug. 7. Local country/pop music singer Nikita Afonso and rock band Cosmic Brew will open for 54-40 on Aug. 6.

Besides music, there is also entertainment acts like the popular West Coast Lumberjack Show, dancers, the Snowbirds will perform before opening ceremonies on Aug. 5, magicians, sand castle contest, slo-pitch tournament, square dance festival and more. Shooting Star Amusements is also set up in nearby Rotary Park.

The final day of Peachfest will provide plenty of fun for the young and young at heart with the A&W Kiddies Day. This starts with the parade escorted by the Penticton Fire Department, the Cranbrook Girls’ Bugle Band and the Vancouver Travelling Band. Free face-painting, bouncy castles, a water slide and more are found at the end of the parade route.

One of the events close to the heart of Kendall is the Peters Bros. Grand Parade which will have close to 100 entries this year.

“I love the grand parade. There is something really special about it. There is no slowing down either. The crowds are growing every year,” said Kendall. “The last two years the crowds have been the biggest we have ever seen and we bring great entertainment for them like the Vancouver Police Drill Team and the Seattle All-City Band. It is really a neat thing for a town of this size to put on,” said Kendall.

It isn’t the only aspect that is growing. With the addition of the PenTown Throwdown skateboard and BMX event in recent years and the Peach Bin races last year, there are two new events for the 68th edition of Peachfest. Four local chefs will face-off creating peach-themed dishes in Gyro Park competing for prizes and bragging rights. Just in the past week the Penticton Museum and Hoodoo Adventures has partnered with Peachfest to host a vintage boat show at the marina at the Lakeside Resort and a regatta with war canoes, kayaks and paddle board races will occur at the SS Sicamous.

Also new this year is the Reel PeachFest film competition. As the stage in Okanagan Lake Park gets ready for the main act each night the big screen will play professional and wannabe filmmakers’ submissions of commercials or film shorts concerning either Okanagan wine, craft beer, distillery, cider or juice/soda or showcasing an Okanagan experience including water sports, festivals, family fun or outdoor adventure.  Prize money will be awarded for first, second, third and the fan’s choice.

With so many events taking place, Peachfest is in need of volunteers for a variety of tasks on all five days and evenings. Their busiest day being Aug. 9 with the parade. To find out how you can volunteer or for the full entertainment schedule visit