September in the Okanagan Valley
September is one of my favorite times of the year no matter where I am. But in the Okanagan Valley, it's an extra special time. Each year, typically after several weeks of intensely hot days (and as was the case this year, extremely dry conditions which have led to countless forest fires), the arrival of September brings some much sought-after cooler temperatures. Nights are fresher while the days remain warm but the sun has suddenly lost much of its sting.
You find yourself reaching for that extra blanket at night, the one you took off your bed in July when the nighttime temperatures failed to drop low enough for a comfortable rest. In the mornings, instead of the fresh pressed farmer's market juice you've been enjoying all summer, you revert to your piping hot coffee or tea. And before noon, it finally feels cozy to spend the morning hours bundled in a sweater again.
This fall is a little different for me. It's the first time in several years that I'll spend the autumn living in the Okanagan Valley again. After moving to Vernon at the beginning of August, I'm eager to start exploring more of the region and taking part in some local events. Below you'll find my roundup of interesting September happenings in and around the Okanagan - everything from food festivals to sporting events to yoga with goats! I don't think I'll get around to all of them this year, but if you happen to check out any of these events please let me know in the comments below.
In September, the outdoor Farmer's Markets in the Okanagan Valley are still going strong. In fact, I think September is one of the best times to go - most of the tourists have left, the mornings are less busy, and September means apple season is finally upon us. I can't think of a better time to stock up on local produce (and indulge in some home baked goodies or treat yourself to a lovingly put together bouquets of wildflowers). You'll find some of the freshest goods at the markets in Penticton, Kelowna, Lake Country, and Vernon.
This event has been happening since 2007, beginning with a 30-minute lesson to start the evening and dancing to follow. Drop in to the Rotary Centre for the Arts in Kelowna for Salsa Thursdays. Everyone is welcome - singles, couples, all levels, and ages. This event recurs weekly on Thursdays from 8 - 10pm and admission is $5 per person.
Apple Festival Davison Orchards
Speaking of apples, Davison Orchards in Vernon dedicates the whole month to the delicious fruit. Every weekend in September, they offer visitors a chance to pick their own apples, go on apples tours, taste fresh pressed apple juice, drink mulled apple cider, and learn about the orchards.
Penticton Dragon Boat Festival
This festival, now entering its 17th year, is held at Skaha Lake over two days on the second weekend in September. Even if you're not taking part in the race, you can enjoy the all-day festivities by cheering on over 2000 athletes, enjoying the array of food vendors, and soaking up some of summer's last rays of sunshine. This year's Penticton Dragon Boat Festival will be held on September 9th and 10th.
The Kal Classic is an annual stand up paddle board festival that takes place each year on the turquoise-y blue Kalamalka Lake located between Vernon and Lake Country. This year's event includes a long course, a kids race, and a 4-person dragon stand up paddle board showdown. It's an all around event with challenges for beginners and pros alike (or if you're like me and prefer to watch from the sidelines on the beach there's that too...). The Kal Classic takes place on Saturday, September 2nd from 9am to 3pm.
Armstrong Interior Provincial Exhibition
The last time I was at the Armstrong Interior Provincial Exhibition was as a little girl and scared of all the animals. This year, I'm excited to head back to check out Western Canada's largest agricultural fair. At the IPE you can expect to find barns filled with livestock, daily rodeo events, horse shows, and a huge area filled with amusement rides, games, and food vendors. The event runs during the September long weekend from August 30th to September 3rd. Tickets can be purchased online here.
Goga - Yoga with Goats
Yoga and goats. Now this is something I really would like to do. Happening every Sunday from noon to 1pm at Hoof Prints Barnyard in Kelowna, practice 'Goga' with little goats in diapers curiously wandering around you. Afterwards, participants can enjoy a complimentary beverage beside a bonfire and head to the petting zoo for more animal interactions. To take part, adult admission is $20 and children are $10.
Similkameen Sizzle Pepper Fest
A festival for hot pepper lovers with taste buds of steel. The Similkameen Sizzle Pepper Fest happens to be Canada's only hot pepper festival and is now in its 16th year running. This year, join the all-day event on September 16th in Keremeos.
Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon
Half marathons seem to be all the rage at the moment. If you're interested in taking part in a race that covers some ground in this beautiful valley, with views of the surrounding mountains and Okanagan Lake, then the Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon might just be right for you. The marathon is held on September 3rd from 7am to 12pm and there is a Wine & Music Festival held in Waterfront Park to celebrate afterwards.
Lake Country ArtWalk
There's no better place to get to know some local B.C. artists than at the Lake Country ArtWalk. This arts festival is the largest of its kind in the province's interior and showcases original pieces of art as well as live performances created by visual and performing artists living in the Okanagan Valley. This year's theme is called Colour Me Canada and celebrates Canada's 150th birthday. There will be over 300 artists exhibiting over 3000 works of art and it's expected that thousands of visitors will attend! The ArtWalk takes place September 9th and 10th from 10am to 5pm. Admission is only $2 per person.