The end of August means two things in Penticton: another summer winding down and another Penticton Peach Festival come and gone until next year, when it will again be back to entertain locals and tourists alike.
This year’s event represented the event’s 65th anniversary, and as befitting such a milestone, was the best yet, said Don Kendall, the festival’s president.
“We couldn’t be happier. We thought it was a great festival. The comments we’ve got have all been positive,” he said.
Kendall attributed the festival’s success to two things. The first, being a free festival with what he described as spectacular entertainment and the second, that the festival strives to be a genuine family-friendly event.
“A lot of events bill themselves as family events, but this is truly a family event,” he said. “We get people that come back from different parts of Canada year after year, and they like the theme of having a family event.”
Over the years, the event has grown, hitting a new high this year, said Kendall.
“We believe it’s the largest crowd (we’ve had) in history,” he said. “The Peach Festival we used to have one or two, maybe three nights with big crowds, but we had five nights with big crowds.”
However, the event also showcased over 20 local acts, such as Nikita Afonso and Dale Seaman, whom Kendall described as “highlights.”
Aside from bringing local artists into the spotlight and providing five days of free entertainment to the city, the festival brings more subtle benefits in the form of tourist dollars.
Between the long weekend and Peachfest, August is a busy month for the hospitality and tourism industries in the city. However, Peachfest brings a marked difference in the crowds venturing to Penticton.
“There’s definitely more families,” said Fernanda Ladeira, manager at the Penticton Slumber Lodge. “People that come for Peachfest are more family-oriented. They bring their kids to the parades and that sort of thing.”
The influx of families brings an important boost to the local economy.
“When we have so many tourists travelling to the area for something like Peachfest, they’re staying in our hotels and eating out at restaurants, which is exactly what we’re hoping they’ll do,” said Tracy Reis, marketing specialist with Penticton and Wine Country Tourism. “The benefits are widespread throughout the community and through all the businesses here.”
Reis said during Peachfest, Penticton’s information centre — a hub for tourists new to the area — saw an increase of 34 per cent, compared to last year’s festival.
As well, Reis tracked the festivals’ presence on social media, and liked what she saw.
“It was all really, really positive, people saying things like, ‘Penticton was awesome,’ and just talking about how great Peachfest was and what a memorable time it was,” she said.
This positive reflection of the community on social media is extrememly important, said Reis, as more and more people are relying on social media feedback to help them plan their vacations.
“Social media is such a driver, so having such great comments like that on our social media sites is so great for Penticton,” she said.