Soon the South Okanagan will welcome back the Meadowlark Nature Festival for the first time since 2019.
It is being treated as the start of a new era for the event, which was forced to take a three-year hiatus amid the COVID-19 pandemic after being a staple in the community since 1998.
On May 20, though, the festival will officially return with a cycling tour at Naramata’s Chute Lake, led by South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings.
“It’s been very exciting and enthusiasm from people leading up to this has just been crazy,” said Paul Lockington, the event’s coordinator. “Somebody booked two tickets to the cycling tour at 2 a.m. from Lloydminster.”
The event will conclude on May 23 but not before Cannings leads the crowd with a bike ride through Naramata and a bird-watching tour in Penticton on May 20 and 21, respectively.
Lockington is confident that as many as 1,500 people will be in attendance for the weekend-long festival, with tickets almost sold out for most of Meadowlark’s 40 upcoming tours.
On Saturday alone, the festival will present around 20 different tours in the region, from Penticton to Osoyoos.
The festival’s coordinator is hoping people won’t just enjoy this year’s tours, however — he’s counting on the community to come together for two separate gatherings on the nights of May 20 and 22.
Tickets are available for an outdoor concert at the District Wine Village in Oliver on May 20, with people welcome to enjoy a glass of wine while supporting local music.
May 22, meanwhile, Penticton’s Lakeside Resort will be home to a special dinner and live auction.
“These are the parts of the festival that we depend on to make enough money to keep the festival going and the tour costs reasonable,” Lockington said.
“Who wants to cook supper after a weekend of hiking in the great outdoors? No one.”
People interested in attending the dinner are asked to buy tickets here.
The Meadowlark Nature Festival, which celebrates the natural environment of the South Okanagan, has offered canoe trips, bird watching tours, guided hikes and back-country horseback riding for community members since 1998.