Peach Fest is a concert series, parade, amusement park and creepiest place
to see white ladies with hair extensions get “craaaay-zay.” The Festival takes place on a spectacular lakefront property in Penticton and ran from August 3rd to 7th. This year was the 64thAnnual Peach Fest, and arguably the most successful as there were no riots (such as the 1991 mayhem during MC Hammer’s performance in which the famous giant peach concession stand was pushed into the lake by rioters) and this year the super-awesome Thursday night concert by Trooper was the single biggest draw in the event’s history, packing 7,500-plus people onto the grounds.
The other acts included “Blaze of Glory” a Jon Bon Jovi tribute band that advertises themselves as “proudly second best!” and “no wigs!” Following the trend of cover bands was “Love Gun” a local Kiss cover band, and “High Voltage” an AC/DC cover group. If I plugged my ears I wouldn’t have known the difference between these dudes and the real Kiss. Mostly because I am partially blind and I wasn’t wearing my glasses, but also because their costumes were spot on and they had the full light up set. Rounding out the festival headliners was Charlotte Diamond. Oh man, 9 year-old me would have been so pissed at lame-o 25 year-old me for missing Charlotte on the last day of Peach Fest. But my hotel had a pool so did that instead. But I hope she sang “Slimy the Slug,” that was my fave jam.
On the Saturday night, post “Love Gun’s” performance, a festival organizer made an announcement about the absolutely horrible incident that took place the week prior, in which a young woman was locked in a pawnshop and sexually assaulted in front of her 22-month-old son. As the first cords of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” rang out over the loudspeakers, one of the festival organizers got on the microphone and dedicated the song to that young woman.
Nothing like drunkenly yelling these lyrics in honor of an assault victim: “Strangers, waiting, up and down the boulevard, Their shadows searching in the night…Streetlight people, living just to find emotion…Hiding somewhere in the night”
WOAH WOAH. STRANGERS ARE HIDING IN THE NIGHT?! I got super freaked out at that point and started to think everyone in the crowd was evil and staring at me. I was also wearing a face-paint batman mask and a helmet, which in hindsight may have contributed to the staring. Regardless, Penticton is strange. It really reminded me of the town in “Outbreak” but it’s also unbelievably beautiful and home to my favorite person ever: Relvis.
The Penticton river is like an awesome daytime club that allows babies in to party. Running along the side of a highway, the slow moving river is a stupid amount of fun. It’s a parade of family fun drunkery, from epic inflatable party discs with 10 people drinking and cranking classic rock, to the weirdo’s in wet suits and “fun dads” who shove their kids out of their tubes and laugh at the squealing little shits who can totally swim and shouldn’t be such babies.
If you ignore the fact you are probably basking in water that is 98% drunk pee, and you coast to the mid point of the river you will be rewarded with what I can only describe as the best thing ever. Like a desert mirage, when my tube rounded a corner and started heading toward a sand spit I saw an embankment home to a rustic wood hut with a sign saying “Rez-teraunt” and a native Elvis Impersonator called Relvis thrusting his crotch towards the river. I fell in love.
While Relvis, clad in a sequined white-bell bottomed onesie, croons into a karaoke system on his homemade stage, his wife runs a food stand that and serves things like cheese and potato mash deep-fried in batter and covered in sour cream. Next level fatty fat food. Every 30 minutes she also heckles someone out of the river to spin a wooden wheel for a chance to win the grand prize, seven cases of Kokanee.
To any future visitor to Penticton and the Peach Fest I would recommend constant river trips and to stay out of the downtown core because shit’s freaky there. A toddler with a tramp stamp would not be out of place. The Skaha beach demographic is mostly comprised of terrifyingly attractive pre-teens and Kate Goslin types making fart jokes. Also, a pigeon kept eating all my chips while I was trying to read my book.