Red poppies on lapels, decorated veterans at supermarket entrances – sure signs that Remembrance Day is around the corner. We’ll be marking the day in Kelowna with ceremonies at the Cenotaph in City Park as well as in Rutland Lions Park, and a minute of silence at 11:00 a.m. this morning. This year, officials are expecting a large turnout to the parade and Cenotaph ceremonies, given the sizeable attendance last year (one of the largest ever in Kelowna), and the recent tragedy of the death of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo just a few weeks ago in Ottawa.
We all have our own thoughts around what Remembrance Day means to each of us. Here’s a meaningful way to gain perspective, and try on those shoes (if not walk a mile in them) of the people who fought in WWI and WWII: visit the Okanagan Military Museum as part of your Remembrance Day ritual. There’s so much to learn about what our veterans experienced so that we can live freely today.
Today for Remembrance Day, the Okanagan Military Museum in downtown Kelowna will be offering guided tours of the military exhibits at the Okanagan Military Museum between 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. The current exhibit is “The Bugle Sounds” and is focused on World War I. These tours will take place at noon, 1:00 and 2:00 p.m., and they are for all ages.
There will also be a Remembrance Day ceremony today (November 10) at 10:30 at 1900 Quail Lane (Westbank First Nation Health and Wellness Building – at the top of the parking lot) centered around the new Veterans Monument that was just unveiled last week by Westbank First Nation. This stately steel sculpture by Colville Confederate Tribe artist Smoker Marchand, honours Okanagan First Nation Veterans who have served, those who presently serve, and those who will serve, in the Canadian armed forces.
However you choose to mark the day, I encourage you to stop what you’re doing at 11:00 a.m. and to take a minute to reflect on our freedoms or perhaps on the sacrifices made by a member of your family or circle of friends. Lest we forget…
As a resident of a tourist destination, you might have had interactions with visitors to our city recently. Maybe you helped someone find an address or pointed someone in the right direction as you crossed paths on the sidewalk. Maybe you took a photo of a couple or family on their camera as a friendly gesture. You may even have used our local Visitor Centre when you were getting ready to host visiting friends and family, getting tips on which attractions to show them and picking up brochures they could leaf through when they come to your home.
Did you know that tourism is among Kelowna’s top 5 economic drivers – an industry that employs thousands of Kelowna residents and generates tax revenues that Kelowna can access to build infrastructure, roads and public amenities? Have you considered where the tax revenues tourism generates for Kelowna would come from if Kelowna wasn’t the vacation destination that it is? If you really want to get to know the figures showing the importance of tourism to Kelowna, check out Tourism Kelowna’s Economic Impact Study summary on our website – the numbers are really quite staggering and, annually, they are on an upward trend.
In that sense, you can bet that tourism is a big part of your day to day life in Kelowna whether you directly work in the tourism industry or not. It is in our collective best interest to be the greatest vacation destination that we can be – to be the best hosts we can be to our visitors – so that our visitors go home suitably impressed with what this city offers. This is how we create word-of-mouth advertising for Kelowna; no small act if you consider how much weight most of us put in the recommendations of our trusted friends. For that matter, even the recommendations of people we don’t know impact our travel choices when you think about sites like TripAdvisor and how other people’s experiences shape whether you book a hotel, dine at a restaurant, or any other such travel decision. If we place that much trust in the words of other travelers we don’t know, imagine the trust that we place in the travel recommendations of our friends.
Over the last few days, our focus at Tourism Kelowna has been on long-term strategy. We’ve had workshops as a team with a facilitator and here are some of the lasting impressions I’ve gathered.
Tourism Kelowna works with our local tourism operators to promote Kelowna as a vacation destination, to market our city to visitors – all in the service of creating community wealth through tourism. Tourism is a major industry for Kelowna. Its export? Visitors. Yes. Think of our visitors as an export. They come to Kelowna to experience our vibrant city, refreshing lake, beautiful wineries, breathtaking scenery, expansive golf courses – you name it – and they leave with all those impressions stored in their memories and cameras. We want them to share their excitement with everyone who will listen. And we want them to come back for future visits because repeat visitors are the best kind.
Each resident of this city is also an ambassador. Each time you get a chance to leave a positive impression on a visitor, you are putting a deposit into Kelowna’s good deed bank; and that bank does pay dividends because a friendly community experience will result in a happier stay, then a repeat stay, and possibly other visitors who were inspired to come from the word-of-mouth. And those dollars spent in our community make a difference in the lives of business owners and their staff who rely on those businesses. And the tax dollars that come back to Kelowna through those visits will contribute to public amenities that our families can enjoy, raising the standard of living for all Kelowna residents.
Does tourism matter to you? You bet! And the enthusiasm about Kelowna that we can all offer to our visitors is a contribution to our community that will come back to us in the long run.
This time of the year is simply magic in Kelowna. The leaves are changing colour, the Farmers’ Market and fruit stands are still stocked full of freshly harvested produce, and the crispness in the air feels refreshing on our Kelowna hiking trails.
Many of us have Thanksgiving Monday off and have turned our sights away from the kitchen (that’s what leftovers are for!) and toward stretching that Thanksgiving weekend out further to enjoy it with family and friends. If you have little ones at home, here’s a wonderful fall farm activity that deserves a spot on your calendar.
McMillan Farms is a family-run farm in East Kelowna just teaming with great activities for kids. And with their impressive pumpkin patch, you can pick your own pumpkin to carve up for Halloween! Located just off Spiers Rd, this 110-acre family farm even brings out the kid in the adults who visit. Regularly scheduled hay rides take place daily, giving families a peak of some gorgeous farm scenery, farm animals, and often an array of wildlife.
One of my favourite things about McMillan Farms is their 12-foot tall, 3 acre corn maze. It is really quite astounding and extensive! For smaller kids, there is also a hay maze, allowing parents to maintain an eye on their little adventurers throughout their time in the maze.
And for families who get snacky, there’s the Waffelicious concession stand at McMillan Farms where you can get hot chocolate and various snacks to hit the spot. Admission to the farm is free, and small admission fees apply to the activities. A Family Fun Pack is available at $25 for a family of 5 to play in the corn maze, take a hay ride, and try their hand at the pumpkin sling shot, or select individual activities you’d like to do, each with a nominal admission fee. McMillan Farms is open to the public until October 31.
Early October is always an exciting time in Kelowna and throughout the Okanagan Valley. It’s a time when the grape harvest is in full swing, wineries are in full action mode, and the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival takes place. This year, the dates for the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival are October 1 through 11, and is expected to draw 10,000 event-goers who can enjoy over 125 events over the 10 day period.
Here are just a few events to keep on your radar:
BC Wine Awards – Taking place on October 1 at the Laurel Packinghouse in Kelowna (7 p.m. to 9 p.m.), this is the official kick-off to the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival. It’s an opportunity to be among the 100 people who will be the first to learn about the wineries who will win the BC Wine Awards this year, taste these amazing wines, and to rub elbows with winemakers and viticulturists who are raising the bar for our wine industry. This is a Get Home Safe event, sponsored by BC Liquor Stores and Valley First Insurance, meaning that taxi service back home is free.
Blind Wine and Cheese Soirée – Set at the elegant Manteo Resort, this event on October 8 is a blast for your tastebuds. Different Okanagan wines will be poured with covered labels, and unique cheeses from Dairy Farmers of Canada will be served, also blind. Think you’re a hopeless case when it comes to guessing wines and cheeses? Hey, they have a prize for both the best guess and also the worst, so the playing field is definitely leveled. This is also a Get Home Safe event, sponsored by BC Liquor Stores and Valley First Insurance.
St Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Winery Harvest Lunch – Fancy a meal in the vineyard? Here is a fun lunch event that takes place on October 4 and again on October 11 at St. Hubertus Winery. The meal, designed by a local chef and paired with their own wines, will be served at a beautifully set long table under a white marquee in the vineyard.
Bubbly Bootcamp – This is sure to get the competitive spirit going - so playful that you won’t even notice how much you’re learning! This October 9 evening event (5 p.m. to 7 p.m.) at Summerhill Pyramid Winery starts with a detailed overview of sparkling wine production & dosage tasting, then guests will be able to disgorge their very own bottle of sparkling wine under the guidance of winemaker Eric von Krosigk. Follow this up by a paired tasting of Summerhill's award-winning sparkling wine and organic appetizers, and you have a winning combination.
For a full round-up of events taking place all around the valley, check out the Okanagan Wine Festivals website. Cheers!
Read more Ripe with Surprises articles
- Farmer Appreciation Week Sep 15
- Win a trip to Iceland! Sep 1
- From the back of a horse Aug 18
- Joys of cherry season Jul 21
- Vineyard shows this summer Jul 7
- A new museum comes to town Jun 23
- Run a half-marathon? Yes, you can! Jun 9
- Food & wine writers pour into Kelowna May 26
- Biking bliss in Kelowna May 12
- Golf golf golf! Apr 14
- Reflections on tourism Mar 31
- Sweet song of Spring Mar 3
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