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PHOTOS: A grape stomping good time in Oliver

Thousands came out to Festival of the Grape — South Okanagan’s biggest wine festival

Thousands came out to sip, eat and take in the iconic grape stomps at the 24th annual Festival of the Grape at Oliver Community Park on Sunday.

Now with over two decades behind their belt of putting on this unique outdoor wine festival, Oliver Tourism Association knows how to throw a party with grape stomp contestants getting really into it with both costumes, skits and of course squishing grapes between their toes as fast as they can.

The day started with the costume contest, with grape stompers parading their elaborate costumes around and trying to impress and bribe the judges.

There were fairies, pirates, Babushkas, muscle people, Three’s Company characters and more.

The judges, who were actors from South Okanagan Amateur Players Society (SOAP), were not beneath being bribed and even had a bribe jar on their table.

Local group the Babushka Queens have participated in the grape stomp for as long as it has existed and still have never won. They did manage to come in third for the best costume contest.

Babushkas also won best bribe for giving the judges money twice and offering 20 per cent off hair cuts, said the judges. The Babushkas are made up of staff from long standing hair salon Inner Visions in Oliver.

Nk’Mip Vineyards supplied the grapes for the stomping.

Team Kruberry were last year’s champions of the grape stomp and were talking trash during the costume contest.

“We are going to crush you,” was heard from the team members to other competitors.

The grape stomping heats got underway at 1:30 p.m. with contestants squishing as many grapes between their toes to make the most juice in five minutes. Whichever team makes the most juice in that time line wins that heat.

This was the second time the Three’s Company ladies came all the way from the Tri-Cities in the Lower Mainland to participate.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” the group said.

They came in 2rd for best costume and came first for best skit, singing the theme song to Three’s Company.

With stomping well underway, it gets pretty sticky and feet turn the colour purple.

As with tradition, the Oliver Fire Department was there to hose off the contestants’ feet and hands.

Guests were raising their glass to over 40 South Okanagan wineries who participated in offering tastings throughout the day. There was also an artisan market and plenty of food trucks.

The Festival of the Grape was proceeded by the Cask and Keg, including the annual beer Olympics on Saturday. On Friday night, the District Wine Village held a Wine Country weekend night of live music and tastings.

Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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