Sizzlefest time again

It’s the tenth year for Similkameen’s popular end of summer festival

Sam Hudson of Harker’s Organics picks peppers in preparation for Sizzlefest this weekend. Harkers is famous for their annual crop of dozens of different varieties of locally grown peppers.

Keremeos’ popular end of summer celebration know as “Sizzlefest” began with a casual after dinner conversation ten years ago between Bruce and Kathy Harker, Karl Schorb and Suzanne Wood.

“We were sitting around, and got talking about sizzlefest type pepper celebrations down in the U.S. and Mexico,” Kathy related recently.

“We began to discuss the idea of doing our own. At the time we were growing 84 varieties of peppers on our farm.”

The four began collecting information about the southern pepper festivals through the internet, eventually coming up with a plan to host a festival that would include a pepper eating contest, dance, and for the first year, a dinner which included a pig roast put together by the Keremeos fire department.

The first year’s festival was put together by the Harkers, Karl and Suzanne, and many friends. Volunteers came from the Harker’s employees who offered to help out. They hired a band, brought in vendors, and conscripted the Legion to host the beer garden. Gehringer Brothers Vineyards out of Oliver provided wine.

“People came from all over,” Kathy said of the dance that year, which featured a Mariachi  band. A kid’s fair, hosted by Virginia Webber, provided some youth entertainment.

The following year saw attempts to privately continue the festival stymied over license and permitting issues. Sizzlefest was organized under the umbrella of Similkameen Country, who have been undertaking the event ever since.

This year’s festival features music in Memorial Park provided by the Corner Turtles during the Fireman’s famous pancake breakfast, Mat Duffus through lunch, and Gary Comeau and the Voodoo Allstars providing afternoon entertainment. The pepper eating contest begins at 5 p.m. There will be something to do for everyone.

The day gets underway Saturday, September 17 at 7:30 a.m.


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