Organizers of the 2012 Kokanee Salmon Festival had reason to worry earlier this week.
The very species the festival is named after had yet to appear in Mission Creek.
“We were really hoping they’d start showing up because we thought: We won’t have our main performer,” said Nicole Marzinzik, park interpreter with the Regional District of the Central Okanagan.
Marzinzik and other organizers breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday when the land-locked salmon returned to Mission Creek.
The festival is a celebration of Kokanee salmon’s cultural, environmental and historical importance. It coincides with the annual return of the species from Okanagan Lake to spawn in the region’s rivers and streams for about four to six weeks.
“People will travel to the Kamloops area or they’ll travel to the island to see these big massive salmon runs. But we have them right here.
“You just have to go to Hardy Falls in Peachland or Mission Creek and you get to see (a) salmon run.”
According to Marzinzik, the last two years have been “really good” in terms of Kokanee salmon numbers. She added the fish that began showing up at Hardy Falls a week-and-a-half ago look healthy.
Along with the opportunity to learn about the salmon run, the festival will provide entertainment and environmental education.
Marnie Grey, a children’s performer, will put on two free concerts during the festival. The Nylon Zoo from Vancouver will bring their large inflatable salmon storytelling tent. Central Okanagan Boy Scouts will bring their adventure bridge, which kids lined up to try last year.
The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada will bring three telescopes to safely view the sun, learn about constellations and learn how light pollution affects wildlife.
One of the attractions Marzinzik is most excited about is Central Okanagan Search and Rescue’s underwater camera.
“It’s a neat angle to see the fish—normally you just peer at their backs.
“They (project) it onto a movie screen so people can see what’s going on.”
Twenty-four other community organizations and local businesses will also have booths at the festival.
Marzinzik said the event is ideal for families with young children.
The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at Mission Creek Regional Park. The parking lot is expected to fill up quickly, so additional parking is available at a lot near Springfield and Durnin Roads with a donation to the Kelowna SPCA.
For more information, visit regionaldistrict.com/parks.