Sunshine Festival ready to draw bigger crowds

Sunshine Festival ready to draw bigger crowds

Oliver Parks and Recreation says the Sunshine Festival will undergo some changes this summer in order to draw bigger crowds. (Dan Walton photo)

After six years in Oliver the annual Sunshine Festival is ready for changes to bring in bigger attendance and a stronger identity, something organizers are excited to tackle in 2017 by taking a new direction with the community event.

“We saw peak attendance at the festival of around 3,000 people in 2014,” said organizer Carol Sheridan, “and are so grateful for the support we have received from the Rotary Club and other local sponsors and those in the community who did come out to enjoy the weekend.”

Sheridan cited weather challenges, competing with the large number of other special events in the Okanagan that same weekend, and the permanent loss of the midway rides as some of the issues impacting the drop in the number of people who came to the event in the last two years.

“We felt that a reinvention of the festival to highlight Oliver’s diversity and heritage and bringing in a bigger headline music act on a different weekend to draw in more attendance was the best way forward.”

The Sunshine Festival will take place a few weeks later than usual this summer, running all day (11 am to 11 pm) on Saturday, Aug. 19.

The festival will focus on showcasing Oliver’s unique heritage and the incredible agricultural nature of the area through a full day of free family-friendly activities and entertainment in Community Park and on the community stage. Organizers want to bring families together to experience, learn about and taste what makes Oliver special.

The annual Sunshine Festival parade will take place Saturday at 10:30 down Main Street before the main stage entertainment gets underway around noon. Organizers are once again looking for support of local sponsors to help with main stage entertainment during the Sunshine Festival, and are very pleased to announce that the headlining act for the festival will be award-winning country artists, the Chris Buck Band.

“We are so excited to have the Chris Buck Band coming to Oliver,” said organizer Natalie Alexander. “This group is very well known in Canada and has a big fan base so we are really pleased to offer this high caliber band in a free concert to residents of Oliver and hoping to see lots of visitors.”

Chris Buck Band is the BC Country Music Association (BCMMA) reigning 2016 “Country Club Act of the Year” and 2015 “Group or Duo of the Year,” who has performed over 150 live shows this past year, earning them the reputation as one of the busiest country performers on the West Coast of Canada, performing at every major festival and venue the province has to offer, which includes having the opportunities to open for artists such as Sam Hunt, Thomas Rhett, Colt Ford and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

Oliver Parks and Recreation will be partnering with the Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association again this summer to offer the 4th annual “Uncork the Sun” wine tasting event on Friday, August 18. This ticketed all-ages event is the major fundraiser for the Sunshine Festival and will include food, tastings of several local wines and live musical entertainment.

The Festival organizing committee is still looking for new volunteers to assist with planning and promoting this year’s event. No experience is necessary, just good ideas about how to showcase Oliver’s agriculture and heritage. The first planning meeting is January 19 at 4:15 pm at the Oliver Community Centre. Anyone interested in sponsoring or volunteering is asked to contact Natalie at or 250-498-4985.