The Downtown Kelowna Association has taken a bold marketing step to draw more visitors to the city’s downtown core.
The DKA unveiled Monday a trio of events planned for the latter half of this year, designed in part to take advantage of the outdoor venue link that now exists between Kerry Park and Stuart Park.
“The creation of Stuart Park has opened up opportunities to host events that didn’t exist before,” acknowledged Quinn Best, owner of Habitat in the downtown core and the producer/production manager of Lush Plush Inc.
Best’s Lush Plush marketing firm played a major role in organizing last October’s successful BreakOut West festival in Kelowna.
He plans to use the firm’s marketing connections to help stage three signature annual events—the Kelowna Fusion Festival, Aug. 13; Pop Okanagan, Oct. 13 to 16; and Light Up! Downtown Kelowna, Dec. 3.
At the press conference, Best explained the concept behind all three events.
The Fusion Festival is intended to bring together food, culture and music under one outdoor venue.
Kerry Park will be the site for musical performances, Stuart Park will host performances from local cultural groups, and in between will be 10 tent pavilions in which local restaurants will pair up with local groups that represent the heritage of their cuisine menus.
As well, Water Street will be closed to traffic during the festival.
Best said this festival can offer an opportunity to learn about Kelowna’s evolving cultural dynamic, and enjoy some great local food and music.
The Fusion Festival is a replacement for the Mardi Gras sidewalk sale of past years, where Bernard Avenue was closed to traffic and downtown merchants staged a sidewalk sale.
“There has always been a problem with Mardi Gras because the street (Bernard) had to be closed down to traffic, which was a concern to the merchants,” Best said.
“And with Bernard about to undergo a transformation, the ability to continue to do that will become more difficult.”
The Pop Okanagan Festival will include a three-night music festival at up to nine different downtown venues all within walking distance, conferences, visual and art exhibitions, fashion shows and local film screenings.
Kelowna will become one of 165 communities around the world, including Montreal and Halifax here in Canada, to stage a popular music festival.
“The ‘Pop’ aspect in the name comes from popular music, but we see this as a way of exploring the cross-over connections between music, the arts and social media,” Best said.
Richard Taylor, who runs his own marketing firm and also volunteers for a nonprofit group called Digital Okanagan, said he embraces the idea of using the conference to bring social media professionals together to share ideas, to help develop their careers and create opportunities for others to follow suit.
“We want to help make it possible for young people to stay and work in this area,” said Taylor.
“Bringing people together who work in the web, graphic design and communications fields for a conference like this will be helpful in finding ways for us to meet that goal.”
Light Up Downtown Kelowna is an expansion of the traditional Christmas tree light-up event that the DKA stages annually, in early December.
Best again pointed to Stuart Park’s ice rink as a city venue that can be used to add activities and atmosphere to the event.
Along with the Christmas tree light up and ice skating, there will be live entertainment presented by Festivals Kelowna, a Living Nativity scene set up and advent calendars created to help shoppers count down the days to Christmas.
Best said there will also be a definite green flavour to the light up festivities, beyond the colour of the Christmas tree.
“There is an opportunity here to help highlight the green movement, to learn more about how a sustainable action plan in our community can offer that green experience,” Best said.
All events now have their own active web sites: for the Kelowna Fusion Festival go to www.kelownafusionfestival.com; Pop Okanagan Festival, www.popokanagan.com; and Light Up Downtown Kelowna, www.lightupkelowna.com.