Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day Seven: August 8th: A Peachy Way To Go!!

The Penticton Market
Penticton didn't seem an enormously large community but what it didn't have in size, it sure made up for in spirit. Apart from the obvious sites and activities which I have been mentioning over the last few days, Penticton has a tremendous community spirit that is exhibited in the way the folks take part. Greg and I were lucky to take part in a several of these activities on this, our final day day in the Okanagan and British Colombia. The first of these was the Farmers Market.
Farmers' Market
From about May to October, some 67 vendors, 57 of which sell primary farm products. gather at the bottom of Main Street (at Lakeshore) to sell their wares at a local Farmers' Market. The products range from vegetables, candies, nuts and meat to soap, arts&crafts, preserves and pet goods.
Market manager Cindy Nelson introduced us to a few of the shop owners. Greg and I interviewed the usual shop owners with their fruit and vegetable stands but there were some other attractions that seemed worth the wait in line for. Dietz's Sausage stand was one of these items which had some "delish" home made bison sausages on a bun. The other was called "The Feathered Frog" whose owner, Shirley Mrau, exhibited her hand crafted luxury soaps.
One couple we ran into were quite familiar. Cameron Smith and Dana Ewart of Joy Road Catering were there selling their baked goods and guess what, they put me to work serving the public. The one major line up was at this booth and no wonder! Their tarts and cinnamon roll were amazing. I found that serving the pubic was good but eating the products of Joy Road Catering was better.
While at the "Market" we kept on being disturbed by what seemed to be loud motorcycle riders going up and down the street. I looked that way and noticed that a crowd had started to gather on both sides of the street so I asked Cam what the goings on were.
"They're getting ready to do the Peach Parade!", he said, not missing a stroke as he plucked a rhubarb tart for one of the waiting customers, "They have it every year and it's fun!"
Greg, was busy munching on a tart of his own when he heard this and I knew where we were going next.
The Penticton Peach Festival and Peach Parade
I kept getting visions of the old Beverly Hillbilly television series where Jed and Granny would try to get a "Possum Parade" evented and have Elly May as the "Possum Queen" however, the Peach Parade was far from that. The parade was a serious and delightful celebration with some of the best and most original floats that I have seen in many years. It put many Christmas Parades in other cities to shame and the colours were magnificent.
The Peach Festival and Parade have been an on going event since 1947 and had special events going on for an entire week. The precision air team, "The Snow Birds" took part as did a myriad of entertainers such as the band "The Tragically Hip." This was a community effort and all took part to make it a success. I remembered when my home town used to do this. It would be nice to see again!
The Parade was a success and yes, there was a Peach Queen who happened to be the 61st Miss Penticton. We also saw some celebs such as MP Stockwell Day riding a "bike vehicle" within the Parade. In all, a very entertaining and pleasant time for all-------including yours truly.
Next on the agenda was a trip to Penticton Beach where Greg wanted to get a couple of segments on film. The beaches of this area are especially clean and reminiscent of the much larger seaside beaches in other world resorts. You can tell that the folks in the Okanagan are very proud of what they have and they do not wish to spoil it. Finally, Greg and I went to the source of the "Tubing" craze that we saw floating down the river when we first came to the area. We went to "Coyote Cruises" and interviewed Jeff Plant about the tubing craze. It seemed that there was a very successful venture with large groups of mainly young adults and teenagers either rented tubes or brought their tubes to be filled with air to begin their two to seven hour journey down the channel. Of course, Gregory Rist, not to be outdone took the tube to task and we have it on film to prove the point. A sign of a true adventurer, he floated down several times just to make sure it looked okay on the film. Great stuff!
We decided to go back to the Waterfront resort and then go out to find a good pizza. We drove to Summerland and were so surprised to see the town almost deserted. Not even a dog trotted down the street. We drove around finally coming to a Pizza Gourmet business and ordered a large. "It will take about 20 minutes," the owner said so we went out for a drive. This is where we found out that we needed to ask more questions about places to go the next time we are anywhere.
We came to this hill and decided to drive up to the summit. We drove in a circular pattern up, up, up, up and up in what seemed to us an endless climb. We passed this woman descending down the hill-----she climbed it regularly for exercise! "You're almost there," she said as she quick stepped down the hill. I looked to my passenger's side and could see the entire area below. One false move and we would be rolling down the hill in quick haste. We did finally get to the summit which was so high up that we could see the whole of Summerland and surrounding area beneath us. I kept on saying to myself, coming up was hard. What about going down?
On the way down we did pass this lady not far from the entry gate. Sad thing! This was one time that Greg did not bring his television camera.
We picked up the pizza and went back to the resort to watch a movie. I opened up a bottle of Jackson-Triggs Cabernet Sauvignon and all was great with the world. Tomorrow, we would leave for Kelowna and Toronto.
End Of Day Seven.