From left, the Peach City Beach Cruise, Penticton Elvis Festival, Penticton Rotary Ribfest.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a corrected version of an earlier story. The car show has always been the fourth weekend in June and vehicles are parked from the Penticton Lakeside Resort to the SS Sicamous.


Three festivals, two parks and one weekend. That's the situation for next year — Friday, June 26 until Monday, June 29, 2020.

The Penticton Elvis Festival always goes on the final weekend of June. The Peach City Beach Cruise is always the fourth weekend of June. The Penticton Ribfest needs to go one weekend prior to the Calgary Stampede because all of Penticton's vendors participate at the Stampede.

So next year, because of how the calendar falls and with the Stampede beginning July 3, all three events are scheduled for the same weekend.

That's the first issue.

More problematic is all three organizations like to use either Gyro or Okanagan Lake Park.

This year, Elvis voluntarily left the building known as Okanagan Lake Park and relocated to nearby Gyro Park. From all indications, Elvis now prefers the smaller park — the one they were originally assigned when the festival began in the early 2000s. The bandshell provides better sound, there's far more shade in Gyro Park and it felt cozier without large areas of blank space on the field.

The fear they'd be turning people away on the Sunday morning for the $2 gospel show never happened. Everyone got in comfortably, although some sight lines were better than others.

The Beach Cruise also likes Gyro Park because the cars run from the Penticton Lakeside Resort down to the SS Sicamous. The beer garden and entertainment stage is perfectly located at Gyro.

Ribfest likes Okanagan Lake Park because they need a significant power source. Apparently that wouldn't be available if they moved to Skaha Lake Park. They also like being on the water which is a treat for when Canada Day falls on their weekend — a great venue for watching fireworks.

It's a great problem for the city and hotel providers to have.

The simple solution is for groups to move weekends because there are times in the summer when nothing's going on. It's not going to happen.

Elvis won't change because the tribute artists are all on a circuit. The car show also wants consistency because many of the car owners plan to come that weekend and arrange their holidays around Penticton's event. The professional ribbers are also on a circuit and they're available that weekend.

It must be said that all three festivals are exclusively run by volunteers and many people work hard to ensure their success and longevity.

So who should find an alternate venue?

The car show is one year older than Elvis.

Seniority should mean something.

Could one of the two events be willing to relocate to Skaha Lake Park and help liven up the opposite end of the city?

The Ribfest has been around for six years. They're relatively new.

Vernon just started its own Ribfest, so could Penticton and Vernon switch weekends? There would definitely be some moving parts because there's likely a reason why Vernon is on the weekend that it is. Could Ribfest be held in a parking lot such as the South Okanagan Events Centre or Penticton Trade and Convention Centre? It doesn't necessarily need to be held in a park when the purpose of the event is to eat, drink and listen to live music. Could they relocate in the block on Power Street, closest to the lake?

Ribfest is a significant fundraiser, but Elvis and the Peach City Beach Cruise also raise money for local charities.

As for hotel nights, Penticton Lakeside Resort general manager David Prystay said the beach cruise is by far No. 1 for combined room nights with Elvis second and Ribfest a distant third.

The city is meeting individually and collectively over the next week with everyone involved, hoping to find middle ground.

They're all great events and Penticton's dynamic festival circuit has become a victim of its own success.

Let's hope everyone works collectively and in the spirit of cooperation to assure that all three events survive.

James Miller is valley editor for Okanagan Newspaper Group.

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