By Brian Lawrence
It is officially spring and the birds are chirping, the cherry blossoms are blooming and excitement is building for this May long weekend's 2023 Creston Valley Blossom Festival, a celebration of small town community spirit and family fun!
While there are many aspects of Creston Valley life that inspire a feeling of connection: splashing in the Goat River on a hot day, serene hikes in the Creston Valley Wildlife Managment Area, chatting with friends over coffee and a sweet treat at a cafe downtown - the Creston Valley Blossom Festival really feels like the heart of the area’s culture. It’s a time when the town's excitement level is at its highest — and the 82nd festival, running May 19-22, 2023, is sure to be no different.
“The Blossom Festival brings families together, and it brings the community together as a whole,” says festival president Andreas Kamp. “It gives a sense of community which you can’t get any other way.”
A community Morale Booster During WWII
The festival has a rich history with the inaugural Blossom Festival organized by the local Lions Club in 1942 as a fundraiser and morale booster for the Second World War effort (Fittingly the 1945 festival would celebrate it's victory just 10 days after the VE Day). The earliest festivals included the still-popular flagship parade, sporting events, dances, and a festival queen pageant. Numerous other events came and went through the years, including an extremely popular Battle of the Bands in the 1960s and 1970s that many locals still remember!
For a quick glimpse of the Blossom Festival through the ages (including the not-so-distant past) check out the fantastic slide show of historic parade photos below, courtesy of our friends at the Creston Museum.
Opening Ceremonies, Parade & Markets - Blossom Festival Kicks OFF!
This year the festival kicks off with a bang on Friday night with a fun opening ceremony at the Kootenay River Secondary School's Theatre with an uproarious performance by none other than legendary Canadian comedian Brent Butt! I saw him a few years ago, and if you’re a fan of Corner Gas or simply of hilarious family-friendly comedy, it’s pretty safe to say you’ll love his performance — provided you’re one of the lucky few to snap up one of the limited remaining tickets!
On Saturday morning, downtown Creston becomes the hub of all the action. Get ready to cheer on the vibrant Blossom Festival parade, which starts with an impressive flyover by the Creston Valley Flying Club. Watch as the community comes alive with a delightful mix of floats, bands, businesses and community groups, including the famous Kootenay Meadows Farm's Clydesdales, local Girl Guides, and out-of-town marching bands. The parade is sure to be a hit with the young and old alike, especially with all the free candy!
Following the parade, the street market downtown and outdoor Farmer's Market at Millennium Park will keep you busy for hours. Shop from over 50 vendors offering fresh asparagus, local wine, handmade pottery, and much more. Make sure to check out the Kidpalooza in the park too - it's a blast for kids and parents alike!
POW Wow, Kid's Parade, Drag Races & Much More!
Saturday will also see the return of the Lower Kootenay Band - Yaqan Nukiy traditional Powwow, a cultural highlight of the weekend. Attendees will be mesmerized by the ornately embroidered and beaded regalia of Powwow dancers and drum groups who come from all over western Canada and the US to take part in this incredible event.
On Sunday, rev up your engines and head over to the Creston Valley Airport for the Creston Valley Cruisers drag races. Watch as 70 vehicles compete for the top spot in a thrilling high-speed race. Afterward, enjoy a free lunch at the Royal Canadian Legion followed by a free movie at the Tivoli Theatre - what a perfect way to wind down!
The festival is family-friendly and Monday's children’s parade and picnic are longstanding traditions that offer extra fun as the Blossom Festival draws to a close.
Needless to say this is just the tip of the iceberg of all the things happening during Blossom Festival - the schedule of events is jam-packed with exciting activities like an Extreme Cowboy Race, concerts and live music at venues around town , a 5K and 10K run, and so much more! So don't miss out on the fun - visit the Blossom Festival's website for the full schedule of events and plan your ultimate Blossom Festival Bucket List!
Keep Exploring - Dining, Activities & Places to Stay in the Creston Valley
While you're enjoying all the festival has to offer, you will also need sustenance to keep up the pace, so why not visit one of the local coffee shops, bakeries or cafes for some tasty treats? Golden Flour Bakery is a must-visit, serving up their legendary sticky bran muffin tops and an array of irresistible baked goods. For a caffeine fix like no other, swing by Buffalo Trails Coffee House, where you can savour locally roasted coffee (even accompanied by locally sourced milk!). And if you're up for some serious flavour, their killer buffalo chili is a must-try!
But wait, there's more! When the sun sets and your stomach rumbles for dinner, fret not! We've got you covered with an abundance of fantastic restaurant, pub, and bar options that cater to every taste bud. Check out our Eat section for all the juicy details.
Hungry for more than just food? We've got you covered there too! Explore our hiking trails, immerse yourself in wildlife viewing, enjoy a round of golf, or indulge in some retail therapy. Our hiking, wildlife viewing, golfing and shopping sections sections are packed with non-festival fun that will keep you entertained.
And after an exhilarating day of festivities and exploration, you'll need a cozy place to rest your weary head. Look no further than our Stay section, where you'll find a delightful selection of hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and campgrounds in the charming Creston Valley. Rest assured, comfort and hospitality await you.
Have fun and get ready to bloom with joy this May long weekend in the beautiful Creston Valley - the Blossom Festival is waiting for you!
Freelance writer Brian Lawrence is a former editor and publisher of the Creston Valley Advance. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking and trail running, and acting in and directing productions with Creston's Footlighters Theatre Society.