After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19 and wildfire smoke, paddlers are once again flocking to the beach for the Kalamalka Classic Paddleboard Festival.
The 11th annual stand-up paddleboarding festival takes place today (Aug. 20) and Sunday at Coldstream’s Kal Beach, sponsored by Kalavida Surf Shop, Tourism Vernon and the Rail Trail Cafe and Market, among others.
Saturday’s festivities included the three-mile Eagle Run challenge followed by the Kieki Holo Kids Mini Classic and the Inflatable SUP Scramble. Live music will follow later in the afternoon.
“It’s been a great vibe,” said organizer Michelle Mitchell, adding that this year’s events have seen a slightly smaller turnout than years past, but “lots of families have come out to support their racers.”
Sunday will see the return of the marquee event: the Kalamalka Crossing. It’s an 18-kilometre paddle across the full length of Kalamalka Lake, starting in Oyama and ending at Kal Beach. Winners will be dubbed the king and queen of Kalamalka and receive awards.
Mitchell’s husband, Kevin O’Brien, is the event race director. He was also a CBC colour commentator for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. O’Brien was on the mic Saturday commentating for the iSUP Scramble — an event open to anyone with an inflatable board — and other events.
The Okanagan Similkameen Invasive Species Society was set up at the event, informing people about zebra and quagga mussels. Partial proceeds from the festival will go towards protecting Kal Lake from these invasive species.