Roaring reception welcomes Rotary Okanagan Children’s Festival

10th annual Rotary Okanagan International Children’s Festival at Okanagan Lake Park in Penticton.

Entertainer Mike Battie impresses the young crowd with his fire-baton juggling prowess at the outside stage during the first day of the Children's Festival.

It’s a face only a mother and several hundred kids could love.

Dinosaurs from Erth’s Petting Zoo kicked off the main-stage performances at Thursday morning’s start to the 10th annual Rotary Okanagan International Children’s Festival at Okanagan Lake Park.

“I liked it a lot, it was really great and I wasn’t scared not even when T-rex came out,” said seven-year-old Koston Ellis after he and the others in the sold-out show were stampeded out the tent doors by the large carnivore. “I got to pet the medium-size dinosaur and the large dragon fly landed on my fist. If you lie and are bad it will suck the brains right out of your head.”

The Uplands Elementary student agreed the experiences made him even more interested in dinosaurs and added he planned to take the Erth MC’s advice about digging up the “neighbour’s” yard to search for fossils.

Shaking her head, mom Lindsay Ellis admitted she also enjoyed the show.

“I just couldn’t get over how real they (dinosaurs) were, I almost forgot they were puppets,” she said afterwards.

The Petting Zoo is just one of the main-stage shows featured during the three days of the festival which runs until Saturday.

The always popular Bobs and Lolo, Breakdance for Solo Cello, Elage Diouf and the Mat Velvet and Charlie Show round out the headline acts.

In addition to the two tents, there is also an open-air stage, travelling performers and a wide variety of other activities and displays.

Samantha Hickey who emcees the Erth adventure says her dinosaurs are loved by kids every where they go but there is another more real element to the show.

“It’s exciting for them but there is also the absolute terror in their eyes and that’s an honest reaction from the kids,” she said following the performance.  “It’s quite magical for us to watch from on stage.

“That interest in dinosaurs by kids has always been there but this is a show that’s now tangible for kids on a different level they’ve never seen before. After all they get to pet and feed dinosaurs which is such a rarity.”

She added it is not uncommon for she and others in the group to learn things they didn’t know about the creatures who roamed the earth long ago from their young audience members.

One person particularly happy with the start of the festival was Conrad Burek, the new executive director who took over from Gord Osland.

“It’s a full year in planning this and it’s our 10th anniversary and as you can see we’ve got kids filing in, so seeing this today puts it in perspective again,” he said. “It’s easy to get caught up in all the details and you always have to remind yourself why you’re doing it and I’m just so stoked to be part of something that offers this kind of entertainment to kids in this area.”

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