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Spring and Summer Events 2019

Home Renovation Show March 2-3

Penticton Trade and Convention Center 10-4.  Over 130 vendors and plenty of draws and free stuff.

Okanagan Festival of Ale April 12-13

One of Penticton’s best spring events the 24rd Annual Okanagan Fest of Ale Craft Beer & Cider Festival will take place at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre on April 12 – 13. Join 65 craft brewers and 5000+ craft brew enthusiasts at one of the largest and longest running beer festivals in the Pacific Northwest. Sip on a selection of over 175 quality crafted beers, ciders and cask ales in the unique indoor/outdoor venue. Enjoy great food, live entertainment and more!  Don’t miss out – plan to kick off your spring festival season in Penticton at the Okanagan Fest of Ale .

Spring Wine Festival May 1-12

A signature event for the spring wine fest is the West Jet Wine Tasting event in Kelowna for two nights – Friday and Saturday – May 4&5

Peach City Beach Cruise June 21-23

Plenty of cars to look at and admire on display downtown Penticton along the Lake Shore.  Come down and get a taste of nostalgia.   Cars from every era converge upon the waterfront for the weekend.    Also features a beer garden and live stage in Gyro park.

Elvis Festival June 27-30

Dozens of tribute artists grace the outdoor stages, which are set around the picturesque Okanagan Lake, along with special guests. It’s a wonderful weekend of remembering Elvis through his extensive musical library, and touching stories from those who knew him about how he touched their lives.

This year there will be an outdoor stage in Gyro Park along with indoor activities at both the Lakeshore hotel and the Penticton Trade and Convention Center.

Rotary Rib Fest June 28-July 1

This is an annual event where 4 Rib Masters face off to decide who makes the best ribs.    There is live music, a beer garden, and plenty of food.    Come sample some ribs and vote for your favourite.

July 6 Penticton Scottish Festival

Plenty of activities to watch throughout the day.  There’s also a beer garden and live music later in the day.

Granfondo July 14

The Prospera Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan (PGAMO) is more than an epic ride through the heart of British Columbia’s wine country. It’s an entire weekend of cycling, family fun, and Okanagan sunshine.

July 21th Peach Classic Triathlon

The Peach Classic consists of a Standard Distance Event (18 years old minimum), an Aqua/Bike Event – (18 years old minimum) and a Sprint Distance Event for those athletes who prefer a shorter distance event and younger athletes (16 years old minimum).

Summer Wine Festival Au 10

For the Love of Cherries

There is nothing that compares to freshly picked cherries.    It doesn’t always matter what “kind” of cherries they are.  The first picking of the season is always the best.

About a week ago I hopped on my motorcycle and rode out to Oliver.  Because the cherries ripen first down in the “desert”.    I found a convenient place to pick my own cherries, right off the highway as you drive into town.  You can’t miss it!   And boy, were they ever good.   But, if you don’t want to pick your own, there are many, many fruit stands who would love to fill you up.

As the season wears on, cherries will be available at fruit stands and in the fields all the way to Salmon Arm.  While they tend to ripen in the Oliver area faster, they are worth the wait in other regions.  They are typically only a few weeks behind.

There is more than one type of Cherry!

There are regular – or sweet cherries – and then there are sour cherries.  Sour cherries are smaller, and are generally used in things like pies.   Many people rave about sour cherry pies.  They will be ready a little bit later – in a week or so.

In terms of “regular” cherries, there are many different varieties.  To name the most common:   Rainiers, Van cherry, Lapin, Santina, Skeena, Lambert and Bing cherries.

To many people, a cherry is just a cherry. But this is not so….

Many people are not even aware there are so many varieties, and that there is, actually, a difference.  But when you live in the Okanagan, surrounded by fresh fruit trees, you do learn that there are a number of choices, and you do develop a preference.

When you own an orchard, you want to plant a number of different varieties,

  1. because they ripen at different times so you can extend your harvesting/consumption period,
  2. in case the weather is not kind to one of your varieties you will have others to fall back on.
  3. you use cherries for different things – eating fresh, baking, making jams and jellies… cherries have different sweetnesses that will affect the flavour of what you create.
  4. Some varieties look and taste fantastic, but don’t last as long if you want to ship them somewhere or even if you want to sell them at a store.

In whatever you do, whatever you grow, there is always a trade-off.     Or, put another way, by having variety, we get the best of all worlds.

Types of “Sweet” Cherries

Rainier Cherries are easy to spot because they do not go dark red.  When they are ripe, they are still a blush/orange/yellow colour.  They are usually an earlier cherry.

Van Cherries are also earlier cherries.  They are very popular, and when ripe are very dark red.  They are a little bit smaller and firmer than the commonly known bing cherries.   Because they are usually the first harvest, they never stick around long.  But if you really did pick a lot of them, you can use them for cooking and canning.

The Bing Cherries are the most well-known cherries, and are what are found in most grocery stores.  They are slightly larger and plumper than the Van Cherries.   If you don’t end up eating them all in one sitting, they do need to be stored in the fridge, as they do not last all that long once picked.

Santina Cherries are also early cherries.  They are slightly smaller, firmer, and a little more oval shaped than the Bings.  They are very sweet, and once again will not last long in your possession.  They can be used for cobblers and pies as well.

Skeena Cherries are later ripening.   They are firm, large and black when ripe.  And very popular among cherry eaters.  Well worthy the wait.

Lapin Cherry is also a later cherry.  It is one of the most popular commercially grown cherry in the world, as it stores better than most therefore can be shipped anywhere with less spoilage. This is the most common cherry for jams and jellies.

Lambert Cherry.   This is also a later cherry, and is notable by its large dark features.  It is one of the most popular cherries grown in the Okanagan.  The cherry is not as sweet as its cousins, but is still great for eating and for cooking.     Think cherry chocolate cake!

 

Some Tips For Dealing With Fresh Cherries Once You’ve Brought them Home

  • Store cherries in the refrigerator. They will last longer – perhaps up to a week.
  • Avoid storing cherries near strong-smelling foods.
  • Avoid washing cherries until you are ready to use them.
  • Remove mushy or rotten cherries from the bag or box in order to preserve the rest.

Freezing Cherries

You can freeze most types of cherries.  One thing you will want to do if you go this route is to invest in a cherry pitter.  You can find one in stores like walmart and sometimes even the dollar store for less than $15 depending on the quality you buy.   You can get a single cherry pitter, but if you really want to freeze a lot of cherries you will want to invest in a 5-cherry pitter to make the process go a little quicker.

Rinse and drain your cherries thoroughly, pit them, and stuff them into freezer bags.  Label them, and you’re done.  Definitely remember to label them!   There is nothing like going through the freezer looking at these bags that you have no idea what’s in them!

When choosing the size and number of freezer bags to use, ask yourself the question – what am I going to use the cherries in?  Smoothies?   Pies?    Are you going to use a lot at once?   Or a little bit at a time?    And how much space do I have in my freezer?   Sometimes smaller bags are easier to work with when you are tight on space.

 

Whatever you do, however you decide to ingest this magnificent fruit,… enjoy!

Penticton is Open for the Summer!

On the backs of the record flooding in Okanagan Lake in 2017, the waters threatened to rise again this year, but did not get nearly as high.

Preparation for the high waters was much more organized this year, and large walls of sand were erected along the beach front early in the season.  As the waters recede, this sand will be spread across the beach providing great fodder for sand castles this summer!

The business of summer fun is getting back on top.   The Wii Bit is now in place along the Lake Shore, there are lots of kayaks and Paddle boards to rent, and the ice cream shops are all well-stocked and ready to go.

Skaha Lake does not suffer the threat from the flooding in the way Okanagan Lake does.  It is a much smaller lake, and there is only one input into the lake – the canal that joins the two lakes – so it was easy to control its level this spring.    So, while Okanagan Lake might not have as much beach access as one is used to at the moment, Skaha Lake still has plenty of beach, generally calmer waters, slides to go down and rafts to swim out to, and plenty of other things to do.

Events to Highlight this Summer:

The Elvis Festival and Collector Car Show is coming back on the June 22-24 weekend.    The streets and band shells will be all weekend and a good time will be had by all.

Rib Fest combined with Canada Day celebrations is coming up soon as well – June 29 to July 2.   Don’t miss the fireworks on July 1!

Peach Fest Begins August 8th and runs until Sunday August 12th.   Plenty of Live Music, a parade on Saturday, and fun for everyone.

Penticton Canada Day

Spring and Summer Events 2018

March 3-4 Home Renovation Show

Cherries in the Okanagan

U-Pick Ideas and Locations

Yes, it’s early in the season, but the strawberries are ready and so are some of the early cherries.   In Oliver, of course.

Cherries

Oliver has a slightly more desert-like climate and thus fruit tends to ripen a few weeks earlier than it does in Penticton. So, if you want to pick your own cherries, take a short drive out to Oliver. You can usually get them for about $1.50 per pound.

There are many places in Oliver you can find cherries right now. if you don’t want to pick them they are at all the fruit stands in around town. But if you do want to pick your own, just drive toward town and you will see the signs for U-PICK.

Between roughly June 20th and July 15th, as you drive down the highway from just before Oliver and all the way into Osoyoos, you will see many opportunities to pick your own cherries.   Picking cherries does take a little more time, but it can be an enjoyable experience.  You get to sample different trees, choose the ones you want to pick from, and pick as much as you need and/or want for a much cheaper price than you will find in the grocery store.

If you are not in the mood for picking your own cherries, you will find them at pretty much every fruit stand you stop at.  Don’t miss out!

Strawberries

Strawberries were a bit late this year because of the mild spring we had. They need a few days of sunshine to sweeten up a bit, and that is what we have been experiencing for the last few days around here.

Covert Farms in Oliver has ripe strawberries ready for picking. They are easy to find, turn right just before you get into town. They are open in the summers every day except Tuesdays. They are quite a nice sized operation and most of what they do is organic. As the season progresses they will have more vegetables and more types of fruit available. And wine. They have a bit of wine as well.

There is also a much smaller place in Okanagan Falls that has some strawberries ready at the moment. They are only open Fridays and Sundays:

“Our farm is open for U-pick strawberries between 9:30am and 4:30pm. Please come visit us at 1644 Highway 97, Okanagan Falls (1km south of Tickleberries).”

Visiting Giant’s Head in Summerland

Here is a post from a contributor who wanted to share her experience hiking Giant’s Head Mountain.  Many thanks to Jody for the submission.  Enjoy.   Suzanne.

In the past little while I have been making arrangements with my (slightly) aging parents of doing something together on weekends.  They are in reasonable shape, they walk every day, but they are “getting up there” (83 and 77).   They attribute the fact that they ARE still active to doing active things.  So we decided to tackle Giant’s Head.

Climbing Giants Head Summerland
The peaceful, windy road up the mountain is populated by walkers and bikers

It was a beautiful sunny day in May, but it wasn’t too hot.   But we started out at around 10:00 so we wouldn’t catch too much heat.     We googled the hike, and it said, “there is a paved road up the mountain, but it is narrow and winding and it is not recommended for driving.    It is best that you park at the bottom and hike – (like everyone else does!)”

So, we heeded this advice.  We parked at the bottom just outside the gate (which closes at dusk) and set out.     The first thing we noticed that yes, the road was a little windy – but it was nicely paved and very drivable.  Especially if you’ve ever been a skier you’re quite used to those curvy windy gravel roads.  this road is a walk in the park.      But, as we were walking, it became obvious why people would want to discourage drivers.  Most hikers were walking on the road.  And the first thing that is highly annoying would be a constant flow of speeding traffic passing through.

The road winds, and is a very easy pace for walking.  There are trails that will get you there much faster, but are quite steep in places.  Because the road winds, you can choose at any point to jump on and off the trails or choose the road for a stretch.    The people we encountered seemed to do a bit of everything.

There are some strategically placed park benches along the climb, so you can pause and take a break and admire the view.  Even right as you start out you are given an impressive view of Summerland and the Okanagan Lake.    It was a great chance to really figure out how the roads work – as Summerland can be a little confusing to a newbie.

At the top of the paved road part is a bit of a parking lot.  Not big.  But enough for a few cars.    And then a slightly steeper hike begins.   This doesn’t last all that long, but if you are coming from the bottom, this last stretch can seem a little foreboding.     At the top is an expansive 180 degree view of the Lake, Penticton, Summerland.     And you can walk around to different vantage points such that you can take in all 360 degrees of the area.  The hike up took us about 11/2 hours.     We did stop for a few breaks.  And we did stick to the road about 75% of the time.

Giant's Head Summerland
The view on the way up Giant’s Head

On the walk down we did notice a few more cars coming up.     At this point we had that cynical perspective about how “lazy” these people were.  There was some “kids” who managed to coach their car up to the top, drop one of them off so he could skateboard back down.   Even though there are a number of signs expressly prohibiting such a practice.    There were also a number of cyclists who rode up the paved portion and took some back trails down the other side.  Overall, there were a number of people finding creative ways to enjoy the mountain.

It only took us 45 min to get back down.  We did take a number of the trial and only stuck to the road on the steepest stretches.   So I would say trails 66% of the time.

Overall, this is definitely worth doing.  The views are well worth it.  If you don’t have the time, yes you CAN drive up and take the short hike.     But if you do have the time, it is great exercise.  If my parents can do it, kids can do it!

Penticton Disc Golf

Frisbee Golf. Fun and Easy to Play.

There is a Frisbee Golf close closer than you think.  And not all that many people think about it, so it is not always that busy.   This is a free course sponsored by the Rotary Club, located just off of Abbott Street between Marina Way and Vancouver Avenue.  You walk up a little ravine and end up with some pleasant views of the Lake as you challenge the course.

Okanagan Lake Marina
From the Frisbee Golf Course you get a pleasant view of the Marina at Okanagan Lake

What is Frisbee Golf?

Actually, many people do call it Disc Golf because, although the initial idea came from throwing frisbees, those who are truly serious about the sport have developed a number of different “discs” for different types of shots.   Much like golf.  There is a different club for every type of shot, (but as we saw in the movie “Tin Cup”,  the only club you really need in golf is a 7 iron….).    When you are on vacation and you are there simply to have fun, a frisbee is all you need.

Penticton Disc Golf
The object of the game is to get the frisbee into the cage in as few throws as possible

The game is played much like golf.  Your initial “throw” is meant to go a long distance to get nearer to the hole, or the cage, which is situated several yards away.  As you get closer to the cage, your shots need to be a bit gentler and more precise.

The field is well mapped out, and there is a sign with all the rules posted so you can get a good idea of what you are doing.    But it is really not that complicated.    It is something kids would catch onto very quickly.

Penticton Frisbee Golf
The Frisbee (Disc) Golf course is a free course at Okanagan Lake

The Rules

Everyone “Tees Off” from inside the Tee Box.    For play on the fairway, the one furthest from the “hole” always shoots first.  The hole is not complete until the disc is inside the cage or supported by the chains.  i.e. if it bounces off and lands on the ground it is a “missed putt”.

On the next hole the lowest score generally Tees off first (unless you’re playing with competitive siblings when alternating might work better).   The objective is to take the least amount of shots as possible.

How Long Does it take?

This is a relatively quick course.  There is lots of open space and not too many obstacles.   So it really won’t take more that a couple of hours if there is a group of you.  If you were playing by yourself you could be done in an hour.

Entrance to the Frisbee Golf Course just off of Abbott Street near the beach at the Marina

Canada Day, Rib Fest and Scottish Festival 2017!

Talk about a jam-packed weekend.  It was impossible for anyone to ever say they were bored!   Three live stages at work with three festivals going on all within walking distance.

Canada Day festivities took over Gyro Park and the tail end of Main Street – with a live stage, plenty of food, and many other booths of merchandise to browse.   Rib Fest settled at the waterfront – with plenty of food, a large beer garden, and a rocking stage.   And Scottish Fest settled on the soccer fields, exhibiting some piping, dancing, and a demonstration of sports we never knew existed.  If nothing else, they sure show how creative people can be.

Pictures:  Rib Fest, Scottish Fest dancing, Gyro Park,  and then the beachfront waiting for the fireworks
Penticton Canada Day
Watching the live bands on Canada Day at Gyro Park
Rib Fest on Canada Day
Award-winning Ribs at the Penticton Rib Fest