Out in the Valley

Blake Edwards, co-president of Kelowna Pride, is happy the group is receiving up to $100,000 in federal funding to develop an Out in the Valley culinary festival.

The first day of the federal election campaign Wednesday was marked with the showering of money on five Okanagan groups.

The Government of Canada’s Western Economic Diversification is providing funding of up to $100,000 to Kelowna Pride, $250,000 for B.C. Wine Institute, $150,000 to Vernon Winter Carnival, $112,500 for Travel Penticton and $93,800 to Rebellious Unicorns Production Company.

“We are now ready to take our organization to the next level with the help of these funds,” said Kelowna Pride co-president Blake Edwards.

“Out in the Valley will be a landmark event that will encourage tourism and help make Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley a LGBT2Q+ friendly destination.”

Out in the Valley is a culinary festival with its inaugural event already set for Nov. 21-24.

Kelowna Pride is also an annual week-long party celebrating, advocating, educating, connecting and respecting the diverse LGBT2Q+ community and its supporters.

“We had over 12,000 in attendance at this year’s Kelowna Pride Festival and we were featured across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. as being the pride event to watch,” said Edwards.

The next Kelowna Pride Festival is June 14-20, 2020.

The funding for Kelowna Pride is touted as good for the whole city and the tourism.

“We will be using some of these funds to continue to promote our city as an inclusive, diverse community where people can be who they were born to be,” said Mayor Colin Basran,

Kelowna Pride made the announcement of the funding at the Kelowna Visitors Centre on the downtown waterfront.

“We now have some signature events coming and additional training in the tourism industry as well,” said Tourism Kelowna CEO Lisanne Ballantyne.

“It is so very welcome and it will definitely have impact on the destination.”

— Rebellious Unicorns Production Company is headed by former Kelowna Pride president Dustyn Baulkham.

Rebellious will use its funding of up to $93,800 to further develop Peak Pride events at four ski resorts — Big White near Kelowna, Silver Star near Vernon, Sun Peaks near Kamloops and Red Mountain near Rossland.

— The Kelowna-based B.C. Wine Institute will utilize up to $250,000 to develop a wine and food tourism chef exchange program.

— Travel Penticton’s up to $112,500 in funding will come in handy to develop culinary tourism trails and support accessible farm-to-table tourism in the Penticton, Naramata and Okanagan Falls areas.

— Up to $150,000 will be spent by Vernon Winter Carnival to expand the already successful festival for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.

In all, 65 groups throughout Western Canada are accessing up to $11.7 million in Western Diversification Canada funding under the Canadian Experience Fund.

The fund supports the federal tourism ministry’s Creating Middle Class Jobs: A Federal Tourism Growth Strategy.