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West Kelowna  

Mission Hill Family Estate Winery ready to welcome guests to the 6th annual Okanagan Festival of Trees

Mission Hill lights up

Cindy White

One of the most spectacular holiday displays in the Central Okanagan lights up tonight at Mission Hill Family Estate Winery in West Kelowna.

The winery is hosting its sixth annual Festival of Trees in support of the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation.

The sold-out light-up event begins at 5:00 p.m.

“It’s going to be a family, fun event to really culminate the start of the holiday season,” says general manager Graham Nordin. “From 5-8 p.m. there’s going to be holiday treats, mulled wine, hot chocolate, the opportunity to view and vote on your favourite tree. And we’ll also have a special visit from Santa Claus and have photos with him."

Local businesses, organizations and private groups have donated at least $1,000 each to sponsor a tree.

Between Saturday, November 26 and January 3, 2023, you can book a Festival of Trees Winery Experience, with a percentage of proceeds from each experience going to the BCCHF.

“They’ll be guided by one of our winery sommeliers. It’s going to include a tour of our underground barrel cellar, which for the very first time we actually have trees decorated in the cellar,” explains Nordin.

Tickets include a seated tasting of Terroir and Legacy collection wines paired with seasonally-inspired small bites surrounded by the glow of the stunning trees.

Mission Hill Family Estate Winery will also match all donations made by wine club members who visit for their complimentary tasting over the fundraising dates.

This year the Delta Hotels by Marriot Grand Okanagan Resort has joined the winery to co-host the Okanagan Festival of Trees. The overall fundraising goal is $100,000.



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Westside Daze announces Battle of the Bands will return for a second year

Battle of the Bands returns

Following the success of last year's inaugural competition, the Westside Celebration Society will host a second Battle of the Bands in 2023.

The competition will be held as part of the annual Canada Day celebration at Memorial Park.

Battle of the Bands is open to competitors of all ages and all styles of music. Both original compositions and cover songs are allowed.

Only 12 bands will be able to compete. Deadline for entry is March 31.

Entries must include a band's electronic press kit.

Competing bands will perform two songs each.

The winning band will receive $1,000. Second prize is $500 while $250 going to the third place band.

Email [email protected] to enter or for more information.



Fundraising efforts for inclusive playground closing in on goal

500k raised for playground

Julia's Junction is getting closer to becoming reality by the day as fundraising efforts to build the inclusive playground in West Kelowna move past $500,000.

The inclusive playground is the vision of West Kelowna mom Melissa Grassmick, and named for her daughter Julia who requires a wheelchair to get around after a blood clot that compressed her spine when she was 17 months old left her paralyzed from about the waist down.

Grassmick, who began fundraising for the estimated $750,000 for the playground back in January, told city council Tuesday evening those efforts have surpassed the $500,000 mark.

Along with a city contribution of up to $200,000, Grassmick says she has received donations from corporations, charities, grants as well as various fundraising events.

Bottle drives alone have netted more than $8,000.

Along with funding, the city is also donating the land at Westbank Town Centre Park and is committing to maintaining the playground in perpetuity.

Grassmick estimated it will cost about $753,000 to construct the playground.

She expects shovels in the ground by April 1 with an anticipated opening at the end of June,.

"This is going to be our gold standard for playground in the community," said Coun. Garrett Millsap, the city's representative on the newly created accessibility committee.

Numerous fundraising are scheduled in the coming months, including tomorrow night's Aaron Pritchett concert at Crown and Thieves Winery.

Click here for tickets.

You can also click here to donate to the cause.



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Crash blocking southbound lanes of Highway 97 in West Kelowna.

Truck blocks Hwy 97

A crash has slowed southbound traffic on Highway 97 in West Kelowna.

A transport truck appears to be blocking at least two lanes of the highway near Elk Road.

Emergency crews are on the scene.

DriveBC says motorist should expect delays in the area.



BC Tree Fruit growers force meeting over Lake Country plant closure

Pivotal apple meeting today

The BC Tree Fruits Cooperative board of directors and CEO are meeting with orchardists at a special general meeting Tuesday at the Peachland Communty Centre.

Today's meeting will deal with motions to potentially remove the existing board and put a halt to all real estate activities involving BC Tree Fruits.

The current board, led by CEO and president Warren Sarafinchan is being pressed for a vote either electronic or possibly by paper.

A vote of non-confidence in the current board could mean putting real estate sales on hold and not moving forward with the proposed investments in the Oliver packinghouse. It could also go as far as re-opening the Lake Country packinghouse.

The actual meeting gets underway at 10 a.m. and one of the orchardists who is spearheading the vote, Parm Saini, says he believes the vote should be wrapped up by noon today. "We have two thirds (of the vote). So we spent all night creating paper ballots and ballot boxes.They've hired two scrutineers, and the scrutineers will verify that everything's legit, accountable, it's gonna be a long day."

Saini says out of 217 members 200 have registered for today's meeting.

Saini says, "we want transparency, we have lost confidence in the CEO and the board of directors. We want them to show the growers the financials, we feel they have dropped the ball on where the membership is on this issue."

Castanet has reached out to Sarafinchan who has gone on record as saying this meeting and the issues surrounding it only represents a small number of members.

"It represents a small percentage of the total membership. So we have close to 220 voting members and we think there are about 34 members who are opposed to the proposed moves," Sarafinchan says.



West Kelowna jewelry company invited to participate in Paris Fashion Week

Going to Paris Fashion Week

Cindy White

It is a big honour for a little business that operates out of a home studio in West Kelowna.

Carolily Finery has been invited to show their jewelry during Paris Fashion Week.

“They reached out to us, asked us if we were interested and if we would like to apply,” says Carolily co-owner Danielle Scheven, who started the company seven years ago with her mother Donna Scheven.

She says they had to go through a detailed application process.

“Showcase some of our pieces, talk more about our brand. There are hundreds of brands worldwide that all compete for this. I don’t have a final number for how many are in this show but based on last year it’s about a couple dozen,” Scheven notes.

Now the work begins to design the pieces that will be featured on the runway in Paris in October, 2023.

“We get to bring eight collections, so that’s 24 pieces. Then once we have them made there’s a coordinator and she looks at our pieces and she’ll coordinate us with the fashion designer, which is kind of exciting,” says Donna.

The duo says what sets their jewelry apart is their target customer, which is mainly women over 50.

Donna says there aren’t many companies that do that. “It’s a little brave because sometimes women over 50 aren’t the market that people are looking for.”

This isn’t the first time Carolily has been in the international spotlight. They were featured during New York Fashion Week in 2018, recently had spreads in Vanity Fair UK, Glamour UK, and have an upcoming feature in British Vogue.

The company currently has five employees, and Danielle and Donna say they might soon have to move to a larger studio space.



Crown and Thieves offers unique Cognac tasting event featuring The Incredible Hulk

Cognac tasting with a twist

What do the Incredible Hulk and Cognac have in common?

They’ll both be the guests of honour at Crown and Thieves winery on December 8.

The West Kelowna winery is hosting a LOUIS XIII Cognac tasting with a special appearance by actor and retired body-builder Lou Ferrigno, who played the Hulk in the TV series The Incredible Hulk from 1977 to 1982.

Local filmmaker/promoter Norm Coyne came up with the idea. He has worked with Ferrigno on past comic con-style events.

"An event like this is unprecedented. The last LOUIS XIII tasting was with Ferrari at Area 27. The fact that we are hosting one here at one of the best wineries in the Okanagan with Lou Ferrigno as a special guest is a tasty trifecta," said Coyne.

"Our wineries are built on a spirit of the unexpected and unforgettable," said Crown & Thieves winemaker/owner Jason Parkes, “a tasting event like this is a perfect fit.”

Created in 1874, LOUIS XIII is one of the finest and most precious eaux-de-vie in the world. A decanter of the rare beverage retails for approximately $4200.

Only 40 tickets are for sale at $400 plus tax and service fees, through Eventbrite. Tickets include one ounce of LOUIS XIII Cognac, an autograph and photo with Lou Ferrigno, and a Crown & Thieves wine tasting led by sommelier Robbie Hundertmark.

For more information, call 250 640-6670 or email [email protected].

As part of the promotion leading up to the tasting night, personally engraved bottles will be available to order through Cask and Barrel liquor store for pick up at Crown and Thieves during the event.



Santa Run food drive at Wilson's Landing

Santa Run food drive

The Wilson's Landing fire department will be flashing their lights on Monday, December 5 to signify the annual Santa Run food drive.

Between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., Santa will be joining department members in their vehicles, driving up and down the streets of the area from Traders Cove to Shelter Cove, collecting canned goods, food.

These donations will go towards the West Kelowna branch of the Central Okanagan Food Bank.

On the evening of the Santa Run, residents in the area are asked to turn on their porch lights and leave their donation on their doorstep or at the end of their driveway for firefighters to come by and collect.

"Many families are coming off the pandemic facing additional economic challenges posed by inflation," said Chief Paul Zydowicz.

"Demand for food bank services is rising as well. Thanks to the generosity of residents in the communities we serve, our department's Santa Run food collection continues to help families in need on the west side of Okanagan Lake."

In 2021, the Santa Run collected roughly 500 kilograms of food and over $2,000 in cash donations.



Local skier Francis Stanley named Special Olympics Canada’s 2022 Athlete of the Year

Big honour for local skier

A skier from West Kelowna has been named the Special Olympics Canada’s 2022 Athlete of the Year.

West Kelowna resident Francis Stanley is also the Special Olympics BC 2022 Athletic Achievement Award winner.

Stanley has been part of the Special Olympics for 13 years, participating in cross country skiing, athletics and soccer. He has won multiple gold medals in cross country skiing at both the national and international levels, and is a member of Special Olympics Team Canada 2022.

“I would like to thank my coaches Garth, Ray, Les, Adam, and my mom Annabel who helped me choose a healthy lifestyle and to be a mentor to other skiers,” Stanley said in his acceptance speech during the 2022 SOC National Awards Night on November 1.

The Special Olympics Canada National Awards annually recognize the outstanding athletes, coaches, and volunteers from across the country who exemplify the spirit and essence of our movement.

Annabel and Francis are members of Telemark Nordic club, which has one of the largest Special Olympics programs in BC.



New gate at Smith Creek trailhead smashed by vandals

Smith Creek gate smashed

It didn't take long for a new parking lot at the Smith Creek Trailhead in West Kelowna to be vandalized.

West Kelowna Trail Crew executive member Dylan DaSilva says a recently installed gate was smashed some time Friday night. Repairs could cost up to $5,000.

"It's hard to find words to describe how angry we are about this. I'm disgusted with people in our community are so disrespectful,” he said. “If you see any suspicious activity at Smith Creek call 911 immediately.”

He says the volunteer group will be installing more trail cameras in the area immediately.

The gate was just installed in September, thanks in part to Rec Sites and Trails BC, which spearheaded and funded all of new trailhead amenities in the area.

DaSilva says the West Kelowna Trail Crew has been supporting the various mountain bike trails, which are among some of the top rated in the province.

“We had this fantastic parking lot built, which is much needed. I'm not even joking we would have up to 100 cars parked on the road of just mountain bikers. It was like really big for a club and something we're all really proud of," he said.

DaSilva has already been in touch with the provincial government and a representative from Rec Sites and Trails BC, "people (in our bike community) were losing their minds, the mountain bike community is really tight knit and people are passionate about it, you could tell everybody's blood was boiling."

DaSilva says the gate was installed to prevent vehicles from driving into the mountain bike trails area. It will likely take several months for repairs to take place.



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