Hill climb

Ted Cooper of Victoria will be racing his customized Datsun 280ZX in the GTO division of the Knox Mountain Hill Climb this weekend in Kelowna.

The weather is forecast to be half-decent this weekend, so get out there and enjoy Rutland May Days and the Knox Mountain Hill Climb in Kelowna, Peachland World of Wheels Show and Shine, the Meadowlark Nature Festival, or run in the Peach City Half Marathon/10K.

The Victoria Day long weekend serves as the unofficial kickoff to summer.

Of course, it helps when the weather is actually summer-like.

But even though the temperature won’t get any higher than 18 C, the sun will have to share the sky with clouds and there’s a 40 per cent chance of rain, a good time can still be had.

The biggest party will be the 60th annual Rutland May Days, which started Friday and continues Saturday and Sunday.

Up to 10,000 people are expected to take in Saturday morning’s parade along Rutland Road, the rides of the midway in Roxby Square and the carnival atmosphere with events indoors and out, food trucks and live entertainment.

However, Peachland World of Wheels could also attract up to 10,000 to check out the 550 antique, vintage, classic and customized cars on Beach Avenue between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Sunday.

To make it a community festival, there will also be activities for the kids, live entertainment in Heritage Park and on the dock in Swim Bay, a barbecue in Heritage Park, food trucks and Peachland’s downtown restaurants all open.

Another car-oriented event is the Knox Mountain Hill Climb, which, as its name indicates, sees cars race up the 3.7-kilometre steep incline of Knox Mountain in Kelowna.

The winning time is usually under two minutes.

“Everyone gets eight chances to get their best time, racing four times each Saturday and Sunday,” said driver Ted Cooper of Victoria.

“I built and raced stock cars for almost 25 years, but this is my first time at the Knox Mountain Hill Climb. We’ll just have to wait and see how I do.”

Cooper bought a rusty old Datsun 280ZX four years ago for $200 and has since turned it into a racing beauty to compete in the GTO category of grand touring-type cars with engine displacement of 2.5 litres or more.

In fact, the 350 Chevrolet engine the Datsun has been retrofitted with is a hefty 5.7 litres.

“I’ve also made it much lighter and aerodynamic,” said Cooper.

“I hope the $15,000 and the four years I’ve sunk into it are worth it and I don’t end up crashing it.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of birdwatchers and ecologists have come to Penticton and the South Okanagan for the 22nd annual Meadowlark Nature Festival. The nature and art festival, with dozens of unique tours and events, is one of the largest of its kind in Western Canada.

The Peach City Half Marathon and 10-kilometre run takes place Sunday morning in Penticton, starting at Skaha Lake Park.

Back in Kelowna, the water park in City Park reopens at 8 a.m. Saturday after a two-year closure for repairs.

The distinctive Ogopogo feature is gone due to damage by flooding in 2017 and 2018, but there are plenty of soakers, sprayers, misters and slides.

The $410,000 repair cost was covered by a flood insurance claim.

The updated park not only has new play features, but an entirely new water delivery and disposal system and has been built to be flood resistant.

Kids’ water parks at Quilchena and Ben Lee parks and in West Kelowna also open for the season Saturday.

All city, regional and provincial parks are also open.

You can have a barbecue on a city beach, but you can’t have a barbecue or any kind of fire in any city or Central Okanagan regional district park.

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