20 years of Meadowlark fest

The Meadowlark Nature Festival returns this weekend for its 20th anniversary.

From humble beginnings, the festival has blossomed into a massive draw for nature lovers from all over the province, offering dozens of nature tours over five days.

“It really is something that is quite special and quite unique in the world,” festival co-ordinator Jayme Friedt said, adding that 40 per cent of ticket buyers come from out-of-town, more than 300 km away.

While some of the popular tours have been sold out for months, Friedt says there is still a wide range of interesting outings available, guided on foot, horseback, by bus, canoe or bike. Full listings and the “festival at a glance” can be found online.

“There is so much diversity and so many interesting things that are happening that are part of the festival, there is always something there for someone,” Friedt said.

Tickets are also still available for keynote speaker, Tzeporah Berman, who will be at the Cleland Theatre on Friday. She is a former activist who racked up nearly 1,000 criminal charges in her early 20’s during the “War in the Woods” protests over logging in the Great Bear Rainforest. She is now Adjunct Professor at York University and works as an advisor to a number of First Nations and non-profits.

The festival will also be recognizing its founders with a gala event. Richard Cannings, Lisa Scott and Doreen Olson came together to organize the first Meadowlark Festival after an economic development manager with the City of Penticton made the suggestion, offering them seed money.

“They said ‘absolutely, we would love to’ and jumped at the chance, and it wasn't easy, but that first festival came off well,” Friedt said.

That initial investment has paid off significantly for the city since then. Friedt says an economic impact study found the festival brings $625,000 to the province, with $500,000 to the Penticton region.

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