The iconic Canadian Forces Snowbirds will be back again to kick off the 70th annual Penticton Peach Festival, and this year they will be bringing some special guests along with them.
Also confirmed for the Wednesday, Aug. 9 evening show over the waters and southern shoreline of Okanagan Lake is the Canadian Forces CF-18 Hornet fighter jet which will be performing a pyrotechnic, simulated battle scene.
And while not official at this stage, the local Snowbirds organizing committee are confident the Canadian Forces Skyhawks precision parachute team will be dropping in on Okanagan Lake Park.
Chairman Fred Trainor of the local Snowbirds organizing committee made the official announcement at a press conference at the Lakeside Resort Tuesday.
“It is something we have never, ever had here before and it might be a one off for all we know. To have the Snowbirds, the CF-18 and most likely the Skyhawks — it is like a dream come true for us,” said Trainor.
Adding about the possible Skyhawks show he said: “First of all I don’t understand why 11 people would purposefully fall out of an airplane but I think that is going to be great. The Snowbirds I love, I don’t really care to fly but I always have loved them. But, to see that jet I think that is going to be something we never see again.”
This will be the eighth visit to Penticton by the Snowbirds, they were last here for the 2015 Peach Fest. It’s estimated that as many as 20,000 people crowded on the shoreline for past aerobatics by the familiar red and white Tutor jets.
The Snowbirds and the addition of the CF-18, and possibly the Skyhawks, as in the past is courtesy of Dave Kampe of Peter’s Bros. Construction.
“About 20 years ago with a handshake, Dave Kampe said to me anytime you can get the Snowbirds, as many times as you can get the Snowbirds, whatever it costs we will pay,” said Trainor, who along with most of his committee members have been together for nearly 20 years. “It’s going to cost a bit more this year than it ever has before but they’re (Peter’s Bros.) on board and it’s great. It’s great to have them as our benefactor.
“I’ve always said without them as a benefactor we wouldn’t have the Snowbirds ever in Penticton and without the guys from the (Penticton) flying club, there’s no way you could do this.”
At this stage the show is schedule for a 6 p.m. start with the Skyhawks first followed by the Snowbirds and then the CF-18.
“The tentative plan is to have the paratroopers drop right into the middle of Okanagan Lake Park and have the crowd around the perimeter of the park and right after they jump we will be clearing the park and getting ready for the night’s entertainment with Cod Gone Wild and 54:40,” said Kendall. “We expect this is going to be really something special for opening night.
“What a great way to kick off the 70th anniversary of Peach Festival. Having this type of a show on opening night is going to be incredible.”
City of Penticton Coun, Andre Martin said it is a great way to add to what most people forget is an already free event
“It’s all because of the sponsors and the work of the committees that we get to bring all these people to town and give them a show like that and it’s free and it’s the largest free festival in Canada.”
According to Trainor the Snowbirds enjoy coming to Penticton, in large part due to the fact they’re treated as royalty.
“We invite them to come here and spend their day off and we take really good care of them,” said Trainor. “We take them on a wine tour, we arrange golf, we arrange the channel and then we have a big party out at Blasted Church (winery) and guys will say to us this is probably the best place we play.”
If the Skyhawks do come, along with the technical crews there could be close to 50 people working to put together the show.