Grape stompers get hosed down after competing at the 2016 Festival of the Grape in Oliver. Mark Brett/Western News

Ready for a stomping good time at Festival of the Grape

Wine Capital of Canada, Oliver, is ready to host a number of events this weekend

The Wine Capital of Canada is ready to party this weekend.

Crushed in along with a plethora of things to do during the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival is the South Okanagan’s most popular outdoor event — The Festival of the Grape.

“It’s a party mood, there is nothing stuffy about this event. It is all about having fun and embracing the harvest,” said Jenn Nelson, event co-ordinator for the Oliver Tourism Association.

The Festival of the Grape is the cornerstone of the Wine Capital of Canada festival weekend, but it also includes the sixth annual Garlic Festival at Hester Creek Winery, the Cask and Keg festival and a new event this year — the Baldy Marathon.

“We just keep building on the success of our events,” said Nelson. “We have people from all over the world come. I have heard about a couple from San Francisco that have been visiting our Festival of the Grape event for the past 10 years and I have personally met people from Vancouver, Calgary all the way to Germany and Australia.”

The Cask and Keg takes place on Sept. 30 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Oliver Community Park and features a dozen local breweries, cideries and distilleries. Nelson said she expects up to 700 people to attend.

“It is a smaller, intimate event but it is growing,” she said, adding that the band Big Easy Funk Ensemble will be entertaining the crowd, there will be food trucks and locally made artisan wares on display by vendors.

The Garlic Festival also takes place on Sept. 30 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will host 20 local garlic growers, artisan crafters, food carts and live entertainment from local musicians. Admission is by donation, with funds going to support the Oliver Elementary School Farm to Table lunch program.

On Oct. 1 runners will indulge in their choice of marathon (20-kilometre, 10km or the kids race) in the unique, flat course along the Okanagan River. The race fee also includes full entry into the Festival of the Grape, commemorative Baldy Marathon t-shirt, finisher’s medal and access to the roving shuttle.

The Festival of the Grape is expected to draw almost 4,000 visitors to the Oliver Community Park for a family-fun filled day from noon to 5 p.m. The event features wine tastings from over 50 wineries, a kids zone, food and trade vendors and of course, the 24-team grape stomp. This year the festival will have a giant, elevated LED screen to make viewing of the stomping even better. Live entertainment will be provided by the band Mazacote, a west coast latin dance band that was nominated for World Album of the Year at the 2016 WCM Awards.

Tickets to the Festival of the Grape, Cask and Keg event (must be 19 years or older) or the Baldy Marathon can be purchased online at www.oliverfestivalofthegrape.ca or www.olivercaskandkeg.ca. Ticket packages for both the Festival of the Grape and Cask and Keg are available.

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