Penticton's Peach Festival latest event to withdraw from summer - InfoNews

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Penticton's Peach Festival latest event to withdraw from summer

The Canadian Forces Skyhawks parachute team performed at Peach Festival Aug. 7, 2019.
April 24, 2020 - 7:00 AM

For the first time since it started in 1947, there will be no Penticton Peach Festival this summer.

“Over the course of the past few days, it has become apparent that we have no choice other than to cancel for 2020,” Peach Festival president Don Kendall said, making an announcement that became inevitable last weekend when provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that concerts and festivals would be off the books this summer due to COVID-19. 

The event has survived everything from recessions to the MC Hammer Riot of 1991, yearly luring thousands of visitors to Penticton.

In the wake of COVID-19 shutdowns that have more than half of Penticton residents recently polled saying they might not be able to pay their utilities and property taxes on time, its ongoing survival would have provided a much needed shot in the arm and Kendall and the Peach Fest board of directors were well aware of it.

The Reel Peach Fest..
The Reel Peach Fest..
Image Credit: Photo contributed

“It’s the biggest week of the year for tourism in Penticton and businesses said ‘we really need Peach Fest this year.' Because we are held in August we were hopeful it would be good enough,” Kendall said.

A 2018 report on the economic impact of Peach Fest said the festival created $3.6 million in economic activity, while visitor spending was $4.5 million.

“It would be great if we could hold on to it for the economic boost and morale boost it would give the city, but reality set in — if the PNE is cancelled, obviously there’s no chance for Peach Festival,” Kendall said.

Kendall said the focus has to stay on the community’s health. And, on the bright side, this year’s planning will roll over into next year.

“We sold out of vendor spots for this year,” he said. Those vendors have already paid deposits, and many will likely roll those deposits over until next year. If they don’t, they will get reimbursed when the time comes.

They also already have an event line-up shaping up for 2021, with many performers already clearing their schedules for next year’s event.

“We take this time to thank all of our sponsors, volunteers, board members, spectators and performers who have made Peach Festival Penticton’s signature event,” Kendall said.

Peach Fest is one of the biggest free festivals in B.C. and this would have been its 73rd run.

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