I love the Great White North of the Border, and have spent my fair share of time traveling from my home base in Rancho Mirage to gorgeous Canadian cities such as Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg over the years. And yet, I must admit that—as evidenced by the flock of snowbirds who alight in our Palm Springs Valley from mid-autumn through Memorial Day—none of those metropolises apparently has quite the beguiling charms of the desert, especially come the winter months.
Naturally, these friendly aliens bring loads of loonies and twoonies to spend at our retail shops and in our restaurants and bars. And while many check in at one of our grand resorts, others opt for short-term residential rentals. Others still are part of the foreign folks responsible for the fact that 30% of desert property is bought as a “second home” by “absentee owners.” And what with popular Canadian airline WestJet offering plentiful direct service to Palm Springs International Airport during season, the Canuck influx is smooth and steady.
In honor of our visiting northern neighbors, local event producer Bette King is launching the first annual Canada Fest, which will be held at the Palm Springs Convention Center on Saturday, December 8th and Sunday, December 9th. “We [have] plenty of festivals celebrating Greeks, Italians, Mexicans, Armenians, and many more,” says King. “These are all wonderful events with great foods, music, and exposure to other cultures. The Canadians are a big group of people
giving us terrific help and support in the desert, and they have never been celebrated here. I thought if there ever was a good time to do that , it is now.”
King says she expects to host between 20,000 and 30,000 people during the two-day affair, which will kick off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony accompanied by the bagpiping of “Oh, Canada” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Royal Canadian Mounted Police will be there alongside Palm Springs cops on horseback, and King promises to deliver more than 350 vendors—the best from the USA and Canada. Included in that lineup is Tim Hortons, Canada’s biggest and best coffee and snack retailer, which has 72 outlets in the U.S.
From 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. each day, the event will feature live entertainment; seminars and demonstrations; travel, pet, and fashion shows; and celebrity and sports figure signings. Attendees can quench their hunger and thirst at the Beer Gardens and/or by sampling some uniquely Canadian fare such as the famous Québecois poutine (French fries and curd cheese bathing in gravy). There will even be ample opportunity for holiday shoppers to strike a few things off their list.
Admission is 10 dollars per day, but in return, each festival goer will receive a 10-dollar cash play ticket for use at the Spa Resort Casino.
So whether you are a Canadian in the desert or love someone who is, come celebrate all things both red and white—and red, white, and blue—at the first-ever Canada Fest. What do you get when you cross a maple leaf with a palm frond? I don’t know. But feel free to leave a comment and tell us what you think that killer combo would yield!