The Summerland Action Festival, a June tradition in the community, began 40 years ago, on the weekend of June 18 to 20, 1982.
A year earlier, Summerland celebrated the 75th anniversary of the incorporation of the District of Summerland. The chair of the anniversary festivities was the Chamber of Commerce secretary-manager Alan Forsdick.
Previously, each August, Summerland hosted the annual Summerland Days, which featured sports events. This August date competed with Penticton’s Peach Festival and Kelowna’s Regatta. The chamber of commerce and Summerland’s recreation department merged to create a new Action Festival for the month of June.
A new Summerland Days Action Festival Committee was formed which included Doug Thring and Ellen Lloyd from the recreation department and chamber of commerce secretary-manager Alan Forsdick.
The Action Festival’s three-day event started off on Friday evening, June 18, with popcorn and a movie at the Summerland Curling Club and bingo and a casino at the Arena Banquet Room. More than 500 people attend the bingo and casino.
Both Saturday and Sunday began with David McAllister’s sourdough pancake breakfast in Memorial Park.
Two of three Action Festival runs took place on Saturday. One race circled Giants Head Road (20 kilometres) and the second race (10 kilometres) was the Somerset Hill Run, halfway up Giant’s Head Mountain. The Somerset Inn had just opened on May 10, 1982.
On Saturday, the Somerset Inn hosted a chili cook-off. This event was attended by Bob Sheeley of the Tourism Association, Harry McWatters from the Wine Festival and veteran movie star Glen Ford.
Other Saturday events included, golf at Sumac Ridge, the Naramata Cup sailing competition, an antique car display, softball, a dunk tank in the park, a mechanical bull, roller skating and a popular Okanagan Wrist Wrestling Competition.
The day concluded with a well-attended Fiesta Dance at the Summerland Arena with music provided by Airwaves and Sierra.
Sunday again started with the pancake breakfast in the park. The first event of the day was a five-kilometre race for the youngsters that circled the Badminton Hall. Other events on Sunday included more sailing, golf, roller skating, and more dunking in the park. There was the annual Okanagan Horseshoe Tournament, swim competitions at the Summerland Aquatic Centre, soccer games and arts and crafts and folk entertainment in the park. A popular event was the Loggers Sports Show, featuring how quickly loggers could cut a large tree trunk.
At the conclusion of Summerland’s first Action Festival it was agreed that this festival “was about as close to a total community effort as could be hoped.”