May Days is a celebration of spring.
The 58th annual May Days is Rutland’s pride and joy as a historical agriculture community.
One of the chairpersons for the festival, Wendy Swarbrick, of the Rutland Park Society said the festival is one of the longest running events in the Okanagan and she hopes to see around 15,000 people this year.
Originally the May Pole was a part of festivities, a traditional symbol of fertility.
“I think the symbol of it is the beginning of the growing season,” said Swarbrick.
Being around for 58 years means keeping the tradition strong.
“Tradition is huge,” said Swarbrick. “We have three generations who played in that park when they were kids. I think it’s up to us to make sure it continues and to make sure it doesn’t die out.”
The festival starts today, May 19 and continues through the weekend at the Rutland Centennial Hall and Centennial Park.
Festival goers should check out the parade, which starts Saturday, at 11 a.m. on Hartman Park Road at the YMCA.
“The parade is a huge part of it,” said Swarbrick, adding the park society will have a float in the parade this year.
The Shriners will participate with their little cars, as well as floats by the City of Kelowna, and the Sikh Temple.
After the parade people can follow to the fairgrounds.
Much like a fall fair, rides and activities will be provided, as well as food trucks, a pancake breakfast and a bingo booth put on by the Knights of Columbus.
Big West Wrestling will also hold shows to provide crowds with some TV-style entertainment.
“I think a lot of people want to see it come back, they really like it,” said Swarbrick. “It’s just good entertainment and you can bring your kids and watch.”
The park society started May Days after forming in 1939.
Volunteers make May Days happen as they direct traffic, sit at booths and cook pancakes. Other organizations like the Rutland Residents Association also contribute to create the event.