See you there!

🕔Jul 24, 2007

When I was little, there was nothing I liked better than being loaded into the family station wagon and hitting the road for a summertime trip. Often those holidays were only a few hours down the highway, but I felt like we entered different worlds.
And maybe we did. One of the special things about Northwest BC is how its every nook and cranny offers something unique in its scenery and its people.
For folks wanting to explore both the beauty of various areas and the communities that call them home, what better way to do so than to take in local fairs and festivals? Grab your picnic cooler, pack a blanket and camera, and hit Hwy 16. I’ve managed to track down most fairs happening across the region, but don’t be shy about stopping in at local visitor centres to inquire about their local events and other attractions.
McBride: This August 3-5 celebration is going to be a biggie! McBride is celebrating its 75th anniversary. There will be local musicians performing, a dance, a fall fair and craft show, a special show called “Tales of the Robson Valley” where history and memories will be recounted through storytelling, plus lots more. Visit and click on the big “75” to check out all the events.
Wells: The Fourth Annual ArtsWells Festival of All Things Art takes place August 3-6 this year in Wells/Barkerville. This festival focuses on music, but also offers visual art displays, a 1-minute-play festival, and lots of workshops. Check out for more info.
Tlell, Queen Charlotte Islands: Celebrating its 25th Anniversary, the Tlell Fall Fair on Sunday, August 5 is the earliest fall fair in the province. Its theme for 2007 is “Kids’ Day at the Fair!” Visit their fantastic website at and see all they have to offer. If you can’t make it this year, mark it on your calendar for 2008.
Prince Rupert: Udderfest—the Northwest’s own mini-fringe festival—runs August 8-12 this year. “It’s a super-cool event,” says David Smook—and he should know; it was his brainchild. He’s not just a proud parent though; going into its ninth year, Udderfest is out from under his wing and thriving. Shows range from the sublime to the ridiculous. A myriad of local entertainers, joined by stage junkies from all over, perform the gamut, from improv skits to locally written and produced plays. Take in a day or night of shows, or binge and see as many as you can over the four-day extravaganza. You will be hugely entertained!
Terrace: August in this wildly beautiful town offers almost a solid month of festivities. Riverboat Days, an annual celebration of Terrace’s history, culture, and scenic outdoors, stretches from August 3-13. The festival seems to get larger and last longer every year, and really does offer something for everyone. A huge parade, concerts in the park, fireworks and tons of activities for all ages and interests make Riverboat Days a hit year after year. An exciting, hopefully annual, grand finale to this year’s festivities is The Lakelse Dragon Boat Regatta. Terrace’s boat will be joined by others from Kitimat and Prince Rupert, and by war canoes from the Nisga’a Health Society. The exciting, competitive event will attract a good group of paddlers and will thrill spectators! Visit for a full schedule of events.
Also in Terrace is the Skeena Valley Fall Fair. With a fresh, enthusiastic co-ordinator and committee, this year’s fair at the Thornhill fairground August 18-19 promises to keep you entertained with two days chock-full of events. Local bands, First Nations dancers, and Kelowna’s popular children’s entertainer Matt Duffus will add to the traditional fare—exhibition hall, 4-H, Totem Saddle Club, and much more. Call Joyce at 250-638-8721 for more information.
Prince George: The Prince George Exhibition (aka PGX) takes place August 9-12 at Exhibition Park. Started ’way back in 1912, this annual fair is celebrating its 95th year. PG Visitor Services Coordinator Michelle Royston encourages everyone to come out: “The PGX is packed with local entertainment, 4-H and agricultural displays, a fireworks show, and much more. Visitors and locals are guaranteed to be entertained at this fall fair, rich in local history and tradition!” Visit their website ( or call their Visitor Centre at 1-800-668-7646 for more information.
Hazelton: If you haven’t explored the Hazeltons, you should! Describing this history-rich area as “gorgeous” doesn’t even begin to cover it. Join area residents Saturday, August 11 for Pioneer Days in Old Hazelton. Quite possibly the cutest, quaintest downtown in the Northwest, it is the frontier town it celebrates being. Take in their wonderful museum, eat lunch in a replica Riverboat on the banks of the Skeena, and enjoy second-to-none scenery.
Return to Hazelton August 18-19 to share in Gitxsan Cultural Days at ’Ksan Historical Village, where the Bulkley and Skeena rivers meet. After a welcoming ceremony and feast on the 17th, Saturday and Sunday offer full days of events. Call 250-842-5297 and speak to Loretta (Ext 26) or Jessica (Ext 27) for more details.
Jasper: The annual Jasper Heritage Rodeo, started in 1926, runs August 15-17 and draws participants (human and animal!) from around the world. Packed with traditional rodeo fun, the event wraps up with a big dance on Saturday the 18th.
Just a month after the rodeo, September 14-15, Jasper celebrates 100 years as a protected area. This Centennial Birthday celebration combines with Jasper’s 3rd annual Behind the Scenery Wildlife Festival. Field demonstrations with park wardens and biologists, kids’ activities, guided tours and nature walks, historic displays and live theatre shows are just some of the fascinating, fun things visitors can take part in. Visit or to learn more.
Vanderhoof: This piece of countryside has some of the prettiest farmland in BC, so it’s only fitting that they have a country fair. The Nechako Valley Exhibition takes place August 17-18. Come celebrate the fair’s 41st anniversary! Call 1-250-567-2124 or visit for more information.
Smithers: The huge Bulkley Valley Exhibition runs Aug 23-26 this year, and it looks like organizers are gearing up for a great time. Even their theme for 2007 is fun: “Rockin,’ Ridin’ Country Fair.” Meant to encapsulate all that they have to offer, it’s Rockin’ because they have so many great bands and performances booked, Ridin’ for all the horse events, bull riding, and four days of midway and carnival rides, and Country Fair to cover everything else—and this fair really does cover everything else! You need to go to appreciate it. For more about what it offers, visit
Burns Lake: Stretch summer out by taking one more road trip after school’s back in, and make your way to beautiful Burns Lake for The Lakes District Fall Fair, September 7-9. In addition to all the usual offerings and fun, this fair is home to the Heavy Horse Pull Finals. See amazing horses from across the region come together for a Championship spectacular. Don’t miss your chance for one last fall fair in 2007! Call Bernadette Peebles at 250-695-6594 for more info.
Enjoy your travels around Northwest BC this summer. May the little worlds that you explore enlarge your own!


Travelling in the Northwest? Check out this list of places your kids would love to see. It offers a tiny taste of some of the unique things our region offers. Most of them make a perfect place to picnic and to get the wiggles out before you head for home.
1. Queen Charlottes: In an area famous for breath-taking beaches, Agate Beach (east of Masset) will stand out as a children’s favourite with hours of potential fun searching for the pretty, translucent stones. Another must-see rests along the beach in Naikoon Park—the shipwrecked Pesuta.
2. Prince Rupert: What’s not to love in a twisty little town nestled on top of craggy, adventure-beckoning rocks? More than a few great sites come to mind, but my family loves the sunken garden hidden behind the courthouse. You can’t see it from either of the streets it sits between and you walk through a tunnel to get there!
Kids (and adults!) would also enjoy the whale- and bear-watching tours offered, or the “Around the Island Tour.” See the Visitor centre for booking details, and while you’re at it, ask about the Butze tidal rapids.
3. Terrace: Fascinated by volcanoes? A forty-minute drive will bring you to the Tseax lava beds, an area where, 300 years after the flow, lava still sits as if just cooled. Another nice place to stretch your imagination and your legs is Ferry Island. Wander its trails and watch for carvings of faces, animals, and birds in the trees. How many can you see? Or maybe you want ice cream, and a spot to walk, run, or bike? Check out the Grand Trunk Millennium Pathway downtown.
4. Hazelton: Old Hazelton will catch any child’s fancy. It looks very much like the little frontier town it originally was (very engaging!), and its Pioneer Museum (housed beside a restaurant in an old riverboat) with a nice expansive park running along the beautiful Skeena River is sure to be a hit. The Visitor Centre can also give directions for a totem tour.
5. Smithers: Drive to the top of the ski hill road and hike the short distance into the alpine. Once you’re there, it’s a pleasant ramble over to Crater Lake, with beautiful flowers and incredible views. On the other side of the valley is the Driftwood Canyon Fossil Beds. This provincial park has a nice picnic area, beautiful trails and, of course, fossils!
6. Prince George: Check out Exploration Place; it’s both museum and science fair with hands-on activities. Located by Fort George Park, with its picnic area, water-park and a large playground, the stop will be double the fun.

MAKING IT FUN: Sanity-saving tips for road trips with kids

When my children were 13 months and four, I planned a solo-driver road trip: from Terrace to Vancouver and back. My friends thought I was crazy. However, we not only survived, we thrived. Ten years later, driving remains my family’s favourite way to travel. Because I’m such fantastic company? Sadly, no. I’ve just always been a good planner.
Tweak the following tips to fit your family, and you’ll love road trips too.
• Be flexible. Drive further than planned if the kids fall asleep, and take unscheduled play breaks if they’re antsy. Make time for burning off energy: running stops, not rest stops! Play tag or follow the leader.
• Be surprising. Create bags of entertaining items that you keep a secret until you’re well on your way. Dole items out one-by-one over time. Perennial hits are puppets, silly putty, whiteboards with markers (endless, erasable fun!), old view-masters, toys that flash lights, make noises or pop up, anything miniature, especially animals… Idea-wise, the sky is the limit, but think inexpensive. Be a garage sale, dollar store guru and toy-swap with friends.
• Bring sing-along music—some hyper and cheerful, some soothing and sleepy. Encourage everyone to sing along. I promise this will be amusing…or at least that it will shock your passengers into silence.
• Pack healthy snacks. You’ll save money at gas stations and stave off sugar crashes. Plus, when you come across old-fashioned hard ice cream, you can enjoy it guilt- and stomach-trouble free.
• Go online to learn travel games to play out loud or on paper (whiteboards!).
• Hit the library for books on tape (travel gold for all ages!), and listen to the rainy, dark miles fly by. One memorable 12-hour trip, we pulled into our campsite and then sat in the car for an extra twenty minutes—we had to finish Harry Potter.
• Don’t try to see everything at your destination. It’s better to leave with that lovely feeling, “There’s so much to do, I hope we come again,” than the awful “I want to go home, NOW!”
• Leave DVD players at home, so everyone’s free to enjoy the most wonderful things about road trips—rambling conversations where everyone opens up, and the way daily cares fade as imaginations are piqued by the scenery.
• Most importantly, have fun and don’t worry if there are rough moments. They’ll pass, and the good memories will last.


August 3-5 in McBride:
A 75th Anniversary Celebration! Visit and click on the big “75” to find out more.
August 3-6 in Wells/Barkerville:
4th Annual ArtsWells (Festival of All Things Art).
August 5 in Tlell:
The Tlell Fall Fair. Check them out at
August 3-13 in Terrace:
Riverboat Days. Visit for info.
August 8-12 in Prince Rupert:
Udderfest, the Northwest’s own mini-fringe festival. Call the Visitor Centre for more information 250-624-5637.
August 9-12 in Prince George:
The Prince George Exhibition (a.k.a. PGX). Visit or call the Visitor Centre 1-800-668-7646 for more information.
August 11 in Old Hazelton:
Pioneer Days. Call the Visitor Centre for more information 250-842-6071.
August 15-17 in Jasper:
Jasper Heritage Rodeo. Visit for specifics.
August 17-18 in Vanderhoof:
The Nechako Valley Exhibition. Contact their Visitor Centre at 250-567-2124for more information, or visit
August 17-19 at K’san in Hazelton:
Gitxsan Cultural Days. Call 250-842-5297 and speak to Loretta (Ext 26) or Jessica (Ext 27) for more details.
August 18-19 in Terrace:
Skeena Valley Fall Fair in Terrace. Contact Joyce at 638-8721 for information.
Aug 23-26 in Smithers:
The Bulkley Valley Exhibition. Visit
September 7-9 in Burns Lake:
The Lakes District Fall Fair. For more details, call Bernadette Peebles at 250-695-6594
September 14-15 in Jasper:
Centennial Birthday Weekend celebration combined with 3rd Annual Wildlife Festival. Visit or