As with previous years, celebrating friendships and families and creating a lifetime of memories was the bottom line at the 2013 Penticton Peach Festival.
Over the five-day event, which wrapped up last Sunday, an estimated 75,000 people rocked to the sounds of headliner performers like Honeymoon Suite, gasped in awe at the RCAF Snowbirds aerial show and just plain had a lot of fun on Kiddies’ Day and at the many other special events.
“I thought it was a great week, the numbers were great, people were telling me the parade crowds were the biggest they’d ever seen,” said president Don Kendall, who heads the 16-member board that organizes the free festival of festivals each year.
“We focus on making it a family event, with the sorts of things that everyone can enjoy.”
Kendall credits the sponsors, his directors and the hundreds of volunteers who give of their time to make the festival the first-class event it continues to be year after year.
“One of the most asked questions I get is how can we do this for free,” said Kendall. “Honeymoon Suite just packed the park and put on an incredible show and there’s no place else you can see that kind of entertainment for free and again that’s thanks to our sponsors, in particular Peters Bros. Construction. They are the ones who allow us to do that, including the Snowbirds and the giant screen in the park this year.”
As wonderful as the waterfront entertainment was, the president pointed to the many other associated events like the new Barefoot Beach Battle mixed martial arts competition, the Peachpit Pentown Throwdown skateboard and BMX meet and the staples like the sandcastle building, slow-pitch tournament, aboriginal village, square dancing and the crowning of the Miss Penticton royalty, for making this year’s event the success it was.
In addition, both the Peters Bros. Grand Parade Saturday and the Kiddies’ Day Parade the following day had what is believed to be the largest number of participants and spectators alike in the festival’s history.
“There is just so much that goes on,” said Kendall. “We’ve tried to make it a festival that has something for everyone and it is really gratifying to be able to do this. I like helping the community and this is my contribution back to Penticton. I like living here and this gives me an opportunity to make Penticton a better place.”
Among those people who took in almost every day of this year’s festival were three longtime friends, Clare Lintopt, Penny Taylor and Bev Bosman, who have rarely missed the August festival in more than four decades, despite going their separate ways earlier in life.
“We keep coming back almost every year because it is so good to see each other and this (festival) just makes it so much more fun,” said Lintopt, who now lives in Nanaimo. “I remember for years after Penny moved away I would grab my kids and go over to North Vancouver and grab Penny and come to Penticton for Peach Fest.”
For the three friends, the first years were all about the kids but now the youngsters have grown up and have families of their own, the trio get to do what they want.
“Back then we didn’t have an opportunity to watch the later music or anything like that because we were here for the children but now we get a chance to stay out late and watch the shows at night,” said Taylor who has since moved back to Penticton. “I just love the atmosphere more than anything else, I like seeing people having a good time and it’s free.”
Bosman has remained in Penticton and has played host for all those years.
“This (Peach Fest) is just something that keeps you young at heart,” she said. “It is just something that keeps families coming back, my kids, my grandkids and my great grandkids who are in the Kiddies’ Day parade. “I just think it’s Penticton in general. The spirit and the volunteers and it’s always so well organized and its a family event, sponsored by local people and that’s why it’s awesome.”
For local business owner Chris Maier, this year’s Peach Fest was an opportunity to begin building those special memories for his own young family, wife Kristin and their two daughters, Rowyn, 4, and eight-month-old Sydney.
“Getting the kids involved at this age is, first of all it’s fun, they enjoy it, and secondly we’re not going anywhere and I want them as they get older to help continue the same thing,” said Maier as the girls sat patiently in their decorated wagon waiting for the Kiddies’ Day parade to begin. “It’s good to be part of your community and it’s good to contribute, especially if you want all these benefits that Peach Fest brings so it’s good to be involved and keep the tradition going.”