Peach Fest enters 69th year

Motorcycle tricks and high dives are just a fraction of the entertainment expected to fill Penticton for next week’s Peach Festival.

The annual festival, entering its 69th year, is expected to see about 70,000 to 80,000 people take part over the course of five days.

Peach Festival president Don Kendall said the town will see no shortage of things to do from Aug. 3-7.

“There’s 11 hours of free entertainment every day in Okanagan Lake Park and many other events throughout the city,” he said.

The Mega Motocross event, a first for the festival, will see riders performing tricks using 300 feet of downtown space.

The event will be held on Main Street by Gyro Park from 11 a.m. to noon, and then from 2-3 p.m.

The festival will kick off on Wednesday with peach bin racing, which is entering its third year. Participants will fit a bin with wheels and decorations and race down Main Street.

About 10 to 12 teams have registered for the race.

Wednesday is also seniors’ day, with events during the day at Okanagan Lake Park for seniors.

The headlining performance on Wednesday night will be Chilliwack, which Kendall said will be an exciting show for Penticton.

“Chilliwack is one of the top Canadian groups of all time,” he said. “So it’s a big deal to have them coming to play a free concert.”

The Flying Fools, a Quebec group, will be bringing their popular high-dive act back to the festival for its first time since 2010, which Kendall said will be a “tremendous act.”

A country night will also be held in Okanagan Lake Park on Thursday, which will include two local acts followed by Jordan McIntosh, with headliner Chad Brownlee.

Honeymoon Suite will be the headlining act Friday night, with openers Crosstown Bus, a band originally from Penticton that Kendall said is popular in the area.

Kicking off on Friday, the three-day PenTown Throwdown in the Riverside Drive Youth Park will see a pro skateboard demo.

That will be followed by a skateboard and BMX competition on Saturday, with street and bowl competitions and a prize purse of $2,000.

That will be signed off by a pro BMX competition on Sunday.

Saturday will also see the festival’s annual parade, with the Vancouver Police Motorcycle Drill Team kicking off the parade at 9:30 a.m., followed by the main attraction at 10 a.m.

Kendall said the parade is the second biggest in B.C., with about 100 entries.

The festival is put on entirely for free, with the work behind and on the scenes done by hundreds of volunteers.

Kendall said the festival has solidified Penticton’s place on the map.

“It’s the largest free festival in Western Canada,” he said.

“Where can you see that type of entertainment and everything’s free?”

The event will span from Aug. 3 to Aug. 7, with drivers warned of potential street closures, and transit users advised of bus schedule extensions.

For more information on scheduling, go to the event’s website.

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