Meadowlark Nature Festival celebrating 20th anniversary

By on May 15, 2017
The natural beauty of the South Okanagan, including Spotted Lake located just west of the Town of Osoyoos heading towards the Similkameen Valley, will be enjoyed by hundreds of visitors this weekend as the Meadowlark Nature Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary. See the list of events at www.meadowlarkfestival.ca. (Contributed photo)

The natural beauty of the South Okanagan, including Spotted Lake located just west of the Town of Osoyoos heading towards the Similkameen Valley, will be enjoyed by hundreds of visitors this weekend as the Meadowlark Nature Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary. See the list of events at www.meadowlarkfestival.ca. (Contributed photo)

A nature festival that has celebrated the unique and diverse ecology, habitat and beauty of the South Okanagan is ready to celebrate its 20th anniversary this weekend.

The Meadowlark Nature Festival is the flagship public event presented by the Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance (OSCA).

The event runs from May 18 to 22 across the South Okanagan, including many events in and around Osoyoos and Oliver.

This year the festival offers 79 tours, including hiking, cycling, horseback riding, canoeing, geology tours, astronomy events, children’s programs, film screenings, art exhibitions, Aboriginal events, and photography, painting and writing workshops.

Tickets for the myriad of events that will make up the 20th annual Meadowlark Nature Festival are now on sale and as many as 2,000 nature lovers from across the South Okanagan – and around the world – are expected to take in the fun, said festival co-ordinator Jayme Friedt.

“This festival had wonderful response from the get-go 20 years ago and it has just continued to build from that point on,” said Friedt, who is now in her third year as Meadowlark Nature Festival co-ordinator.

Once again events will take place in communities across the South Okanagan and Similkameen, including Osoyoos, Oliver, Okanagan Falls, Penticton, Summerland, Keremeos and Cawston.

One of the things she’s most proud of is that nature lovers from all over the world make the trip to this region to participate in events in the festival, said Friedt.

“Forty per cent of our ticket sales are from people located 300 kilometres away or more,” she said. “We’ve already sold tickets this year to people from all over the West Coast of B.C., northern B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and the United States.

“People who love nature want to be part of one of the most completely unique events in North America.”

The Okanagan and Similkameen valleys boast not only spectacular scenery, but some of the most unique and endangered species of plants, animals “and critters” anywhere in Canada and this holds great appeal to nature lovers, she said.

Tours and hikes make up a big part of the festival and organizers like to limit participation to less than 30 to allow participants to have direct access to tour guides, said Friedt.

“We want to make the festival an interactive experience where participants can speak directly to the experts,” she said. “Our 20th Anniversary roster of events includes some old favourites, as well as some really exciting new tours we’ve added this year.

“What’s really great about all Meadowlark tours though, is that participants have the opportunity to engage with experts in their fields, including biologists, botanists, historians, traditional knowledge keepers, herpetologists, naturalists and artists, and really learn about the environments they’re exploring!”

This year’s Keynote Speaker will be Tzeporah Berman, who is one of Canada’s most influential environmentalists.

Her keynote address is called Tzeporah Berman: This Crazy Time – Living Our Environmental Challenge. Her address will take place Friday, May 19 beginning at 7 p.m. at the Cleland Theatre in Penticton.

In her early 20s, Berman faced nearly 1,000 criminal charges and six years in prison for her role organizing blockades in Canada’s rainforest. Today, she is an Adjunct Professor at York University and works as a strategic advisor on climate and energy issues to a number of First Nations, environmental organizations and philanthropic foundations.

“Tzeporah Berman has been instrumental in shaping the modern environmental movement. She’s been profiled as one of 50 Visionaries Changing the World in Utne Reader and was included in the BC Royal Museum permanent exhibit of one of 150 people who have changed the face of British Columbia,” says Friedt.

Berman also works as a strategic advisor on climate and energy issues to a number of First Nations, environmental organizations and philanthropic foundations.

Her keynote address on Friday evening will offer a wryly honest, behind-the-scenes, ultimately uplifting look at the state of the planet, said Friedt.

In celebration of the 20th anniversary, the Festival is presenting a Founders’ Gala taking place Saturday, May 20 at the Penticton Golf and Country Club.

Festival founders Dick Cannings, who is now MP for South Okanagan/West Kootenay, Doreen Olson and Lisa Scott will be recognized for starting the festival back in 1998. For a complete look at the 2017 festival go to www.meadowlarkfestival.ca. Tickets can be purchased online as well.

KEITH LACEY

Osoyoos Times

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