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iN VIDEO: Odd facts about the historic Kelowna Regatta

The Kelowna Regatta showcased a variety of water sports and performances.
Image Credit: YOUTUBE
February 21, 2020 - 7:30 AM

While the Kelowna Regatta was a staple of Okanagan summertime entertainment for decades, an episode of BC Was Awesome reveals some new and very odd facts about the event.

Episode 3 in the series devoted to uncovering B.C.'s curious history focuses on Kelowna’s Regatta.

As host Bob Kronbauer discovers, regatta included activities like kids trying to catch a greased pig in Okanagan Lake, boating competitions, synchronized swimming and even Second World War-inspired events.

Credit: YOUTUBE / Storyhive

At times regatta increased the City's population tenfold. Local historian Sharron Simpson says in the episode when Kelowna had a population of around 9,000 people, some 100,000 would converge on the town for the festival.

The theme during the Second World War was a mock Nazi invasion complete with the burning of an effigy of Hitler. Any profits made during the regatta would be sent to the federal government to help fund the war efforts.

In 1969, the grandstand on the lake burned down. Although the regatta continued afterwards, it wasn’t the same, according to those interviewed. The regatta officially ended in 1987, after eight decades.

“We were ground zero for regatta, and now there’s no regatta here,” historian Bob Hayes says in the video.

Some credit the regatta as part of the reason Kelowna grew from a small town to what the vibrant city it is today.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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