iN VIDEO: Remembering the 1991 Penticton riot with a comic twist | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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iN VIDEO: Remembering the 1991 Penticton riot with a comic twist

The Penticton Peach was pushed by rioters into Okanagan Lake after the PeachFest MC Hammer concert in 1991.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/The Peach

The 1991 Penticton Riot remains one of the most infamous events in Okanagan history. While many remember it with horror, a local filmmaking duo have portrayed the fateful day with a comedic twist.

Many believe a crowd of rowdy concertgoers leaving an MC Hammer concert on Jul 28, 1991, are responsible for doing away with Penticton’s nightlife for good.

Vickie Solberg was working the night shift at the downtown Tim Horton’s when rioters stormed the streets.

“It was, really, probably one of my most memorable nights ever,” Solberg told

READ MORE: Honeymoon Suite to headline Penticton's PeachFest this summer

Solberg said she and her colleagues ran and hid by the back door of the restaurant when they heard rocks or fists pelting against the windows.

Then, she noticed smoke creeping into the building which turned out to be tear gas police were using to steer the rioters back towards the beach.

“We actually thought people were gonna come through the window, because it was just so loud,” she said.

Okanagan resident Debbie Meyer also remembers tear gas flooding her hotel room and setting off the fire alarm.

“We had trouble getting back to our hotel after the MC Hammer concert,” Meyer told “Our hotel was right along the main street. And once we did, we had to put towels across our doors because there was tear gas floating in from the street.”

This momentous night provided the inspiration for a pair of local filmmakers. 

READ MORE: Penticton’s iconic fruit once had a sibling that served ice cream in a nightclub

Nathan Penner and Danny Riendeau recently won the audience award at the Penticton Snakebite Film Festival for their short film “1991”.

“It was kind of an idea that had been stewing for a while, but we just decided to make it into a ridiculous fiction film for the film fest,” Riendeau told

Penner and Riendeau took part in the festival's five-day film challenge, where participants were given five days to write, shoot and edit a short film with specific and strange requirements.

Each film was required to include chopsticks as a prop, a specific line of dialogue (Do you ever think we should just stop doing this?) and a nosey neighbour character.

READ MORE: How the Okanagan inspired an award-winning filmmaker

For Penner and Riendeau, this melded into a fictitious and ridiculous retelling of the Penticton riot. 

“We had so many people come up to us after the film, too, and tell me their stories that they experienced during the riot,” Penner said.

The audience's memories of the event varied, but there was a shared consensus it was a determining moment in the city's history. 

“It was a kind of a pivotal point for Penticton and that's also what we kind of wanted to highlight was why is Penticton, Penticton today?" Penner said. "We wanted to bring light to why we feel the city doesn't really let the town grow and be what it should be. We think that it's a little limited with excitement and fun and there's just something being held back here."

“It is kind of the moment the lights got shut off, literally and figuratively,” Riendeau said. “And that's sort of like the general consensus in town.”

— This story was updated at 4:46 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, to spell Danny Riendeau's surname correctly. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Georgina Whitehouse or call 250-864-7494 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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