Penticton Peach Festival organizers are excited for a pumped up roster of free entertainment to celebrate the 65th year of the summer tradition.
It all begins on Wednesday with the headliner band Lighthouse performing at Okanagan Lake Park.
“I think it is tremendous for Penticton to have this band,” said Peach Festival president Don Kendall. “They are one of the real icons in Canadian music and we are thankful to have them. They were huge, beating out bands like The Guess Who, April Wine, The Stampeders and other legendary bands for awards.” Kendall gave Peach Festival entertainment director Bill Koulter kudos on another great job at booking acts this year.
“Bill has been involved for about 15 years now and he really keeps the family in mind. 54-40 has been around for 30 years now and three generations of people like them. Same thing as last year with Trooper,” said Kendall.
54-40 is the headliner on Friday, Aug. 10 at Okanagan Lake Park, taking the stage at 9:40 p.m. The band is celebrating their 30-year anniversary and have an big catalogue of songs including Baby Ran, I Go Blind, Ocean Pearl and One Gun.
“I encourage people who want to come to the evening performances to get there early, particularly with Lighthouse and 54-40 because we are expecting the park to be packed. In fact we expect big crowds every night. With the sponsorship and the growth of Peach Fest it has allowed us to greatly improve the quality of entertainment over the years,” said Kendall.
Bringing in the bigger-name bands and being free to the public is the combination of great community support and the generosity of local business. Kendall said without the sponsorship from Peter’s Bros. Construction Ltd. they wouldn’t be able to have bands like Lighthouse and 54-40 at Peach Festival.
Organizers also focus on giving local entertainers the spotlight.
“There are 25 local acts that will be performing as well including, Nikita Afonso and Dale Seaman and Highway 97. There are dancers, singers and performers who will be on the main stage and on the stage at the Aboriginal Village,” said Kendall.
Afonso, who is one of the headliners for Aug. 11 followed by AC/DC tribute band High Voltage, has a growing fan base. She attracted a sellout crowd at Cleland Theatre and was the opening act for Canadian country star Paul Brandt when he performed at the South Okanagan Events Centre
“I grew up dreaming that someday I would be up on stage, in front of thousands of people at Peachfest,” she said.
The West Coast Lumberjack Show is returning to the Peach Festival this year, showcasing fearless skills and daredevil displays that is infused with a rich sense of history. They blend humour, heroics and showmanship.
“They had incredible crowds when they were here in 2009,” said Kendall. “To have this type of entertainment, they performed at the PNE, CNE and Europe, is just incredible.”
They will be performing three shows a day from Wednesday to Saturday.
Kiddies Day is Aug. 12 at Okanagan Lake Park following the Kiddies Day parade. Kicking off the entertainment at 12:05 p.m. is The Checkerboard Guy and son.
Since 1981 David Aiken has performed as The Checkerboard Guy, a comic daredevil who’s manic energy, zany sense of humour and robust skill set have been his passport to the globe. His award-winning comedic variety show has been compared to Steve Martin, Pee Wee Herman and even a live action version of The Simpsons. The daredevil performer is followed by a list of performances geared for kids including local dance team Dream High Crew, the Bahiti Belly Dancers and more. The evening finishes with a performance by Beatles tribute band The Mop Tops and Vancouver-based band Killarney.
Besides the entertainment at Okanagan Lake Park there will be over 500 people competing at the square dance competition at the Penticton Seniors Drop-In Centre on South Main Street. For over 58 years there has been square dancing in Penticton during the festival. The Peachfest Square Dance Festival offers a unique lineup of callers and cuers to entertain dancers from Alberta, B.C. and several of the Pacific Northwest states. The festival offers an opportunity for dancers to enjoy various levels of square and round dancing. Dancing takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. from Aug. 8 to Aug. 11.
For more information on the festival visit www.peachfest.com or join them on social media at Facebook.com/PentictonPeachFest or on Twitter @PeachFest2012.