Kelowna residents want music to be focus of city's next signature event

Making Kelowna 'eventful'

After nearly five years of work, the City of Kelowna is pulling back the curtains on its grand plan to fill the calendar and support the local event industry.

On Monday, city council will take a look at the final draft of the city’s event strategy, a broad 10-year plan that aims to return Kelowna to an “eventful city.”

The city has for many years toyed with the idea of bringing a “signature event” to Kelowna. While Penticton has Peachfest and Vernon has its Winter Carnival, Kelowna has to look back decades to the Regatta since it was home to a truly iconic event.

Public consultation conducted as a part of the creation of the event strategy shows 71 per cent of residents want the city’s next signature event to be focused on music. Opportunities for retailers, history, water sports and competitions were also popular focuses.

“A city-led organizing committee comprised of community residents is currently in the process of planning a one-day family-oriented event for Saturday, August 27,” said a report to council accompanying the event strategy.

Details of the August event were not revealed.

The strategy notes that the majority of events hosted in Kelowna are either smaller events of less than 500 attendees or weddings. Most events are held in the downtown core or surrounding area.

Survey respondents reported that they felt there currently is not enough of a variety of events throughout the year, and when asked what barriers contributed to not attending events, the bulk of respondents cited lack of awareness and cost as the main reasons.

Event organizers were generally satisfied with Kelowna as a host community, although just 52 per cent of events were able to recruit enough volunteers. Rising costs, lack of marketing and aging infrastructure were also highlighted as challenges for event organizers.

Check out the video below for the story behind the Kelowna Regatta, which defined the Okanagan summer from 1906 until 1987.

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