From radishes to rodeos:

🕔Aug 04, 2010

Local fall fairs celebrate tradition, heritage and progress. It’s where children learn that bacon comes from a pig, not a cellophane package, and feel how soft baby bunnies really are. It’s where teenage boys and girls can sing on stage in front of their entire community—just for fun or for prizes. It’s where grandma and grandpa can catch up with friends they haven’t seen since last year’s fair. It’s also where I can learn how to keep my precious garden alive, and preserve all the extras.

Some of northern BC’s fairs are big: multi-day events with rodeos and amusement parks. Others are small, unpretentious affairs. But all have meaning for those involved.

“A fair is something an entire community can get behind. It’s a showcase of what the community offers,” according to Janine Shaw, executive director of BC Association of Fairs and Agricultural Exhibitions (BC Fairs), a non-profit organization that provides leadership and support to the province’s agricultural fair industry.

“That’s why every fair is so unique; communities have different crops and specialties.”

In addition to the social benefits, fairs also have a significant economic impact on the local regions. According to a study conducted by the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, Canada’s fairs—small, medium and large—contribute an estimated $1 billion to local economies.

BC Fairs celebrated its 100-year anniversary this year, which indicates that fairs in the province are around for the long-term.

“As a whole, our fairs are maintaining or growing,” Shaw says, adding, “I think that fairs today have become more sophisticated in how they present agricultural education. They have really stretched out to help people become more interactive with the learning process.”

Craving some cotton candy? Want to ride a pony—or the Zipper? Check out the sights, sounds, and smells at one of northern BC’s fall fairs this summer.

Tlell Fall Fair – Tlell, Haida Gwaii, August 1
According to Doug Louis, president of the Tlell Fall Fair organizing committee, turnout really depends on weather. “We usually get over 1,000 people,” he says. Therefore, because mother earth grants better weather in early August on Haida Gwaii—specifically in Tlell—this fair now takes place on the Sunday before BC Day. That makes it the earliest fall fair in the province.

Attractions at this one-day, alcohol-free event include livestock, poultry, produce, flowers, houseplants, handicrafts, baking, games, info booths, food and live entertainment. This year’s performers are Jaydee Bixby—a Canadian Idol runner-up—and children’s entertainer Will Stroet.

Louis says the fall fair is a unique chance for islanders and tourists to see how much agriculture there actually is on Haida Gwaii, and how varied it is. “From one end of Graham Island to the other is different,” he says.

“The fair is a very social thing,” he adds. “We make it a full family event.”

A unique part of the Tlell fair is that it showcases aquaculture in addition to agriculture. For example, the canning exhibit includes seafood.

For more info, go to

Kiskatinaw Fall Fair – Sunset Prairie, August 7-8
This small fair, which started in 1934, takes place at the Sunset Prairie fairground in northeastern BC. The fair’s main event is Saturday’s heavy horse competition. Sunday begins with an open-air church service and a free breakfast. The main event that day is light horse competitions.

Joe Breti, chair of the Kiskatinaw Fall Fair Association, says many contestants use this fair as a warm-up for some of the larger, more competitive horse shows. “We’re a little different than other fairs. We gear this event to novices—the younger people who will keep this sort of thing going.”

“It exemplifies a way of life. We’re country people, not city.”
Anywhere between 1,500 and 2,000 people attend the Kiskatinaw fair. In between horse shows, fairgoers can check out the many animal, horticulture and handicraft exhibits.

Entrance is by donation.

Prince George Exhibition – Prince George, August 11 – 15
The Prince George Exhibition is a massive, five-day event that attracts up to 44,000 people. This exhibition, which marks its 98th anniversary this year, has it all: 4-H youth displays, a petting farm, heritage displays, a creative writing contest, knitting displays, livestock and horse competitions, bull riding, dog agility shows, an indoor and outdoor trade show, and much more.

An outdoor community stage is another highlight, as are the tasty treats at the food court.

“It’s just a real community effort,” says Nancy Loreth, president of the organizing committee.

Loreth says the new team penning event, the amusement park and the Saturday night dance are popular, but every fairgoer’s favourites are different. “We have such a wide variety of everything. We have a one-pay gate and we provide something for every age group.”

For more info, go to

Dawson Creek Exhibition & Stampede – Dawson Creek, August 11–15
The Dawson Creek Exhibition and Stampede, at the Collins Park Fair Grounds, is another large five-day event. The exhibition has multiple components including chuck-wagon races, an agricultural fair, rodeo, and an amusement park.

The exhibition includes a city parade on Friday morning, and throughout the weekend the Encana Event Centre has a free trade fair and art show.

The Dawson Creek Agriculture Fair, one of the most important elements of the exhibition, has all kinds of animals, garden goods, baking, canning, photography, wine, grains, and arts and crafts on display. Various exhibitors also showcase some of the latest technology and products in the agricultural industry.

Music over the course of the five days will be a mixture of genres as diverse as country and gospel. 2010 performers include Kenny Shaw and Mark Lorenz.

For more information, go to

North Peace Fall Fair – Fort St. John, August 13-15
This three-day fair usually attracts about 6,500 people including up to 200 who camp on-site for the weekend. There are games, music, cattle competitions, logger sports, a classic car show, tractor pull, and all kinds of displays and other exhibits such as baking, flowers and produce.

“It’s just a really nice event. It’s family oriented. It’s very relaxed. It’s a crowd pleaser,” says Eleanor Steffensen, treasurer of the North Peace Fall Fair Society.

Some of the most popular attractions are the stock dog event, and light and heavy horse competitions.

Two of the newest events—as of about 10 years ago—are the volunteer-of-the-year and pioneer-of-the-year elections.

As for Steffensen, she says, “I like when the day is done and we have live music and an open-air dance.”

The antique tractor parade is another of her favourites. “It brings back a lot of memories from when I was a kid. How some of those old tractors even run is amazing.”

Free pancake breakfasts, put on by the city, are also available on Saturday and Sunday.

This event takes places at the North Peace Fall Fairgrounds, 21 kilometers north of Fort St John. Weekend camping is available.

For more information, go to

Nechako Valley Exhibition 
– Vanderhoof, August 20-22
As listed on its website, the Nechako Valley Exhibition Society wants to promote and encourage the development of farming and livestock industries in the local area; increase awareness of local agricultural potential; provide a venue for friendly competition; and provide residents the opportunity to learn from each other, thereby, increasing the standards of local agriculture. All of this is made possible through the society’s annual exhibition.

From crafts to quilts, baked goods, produce and livestock, this event showcases all aspects of agriculture. This year’s attractions will also include barrel racing, a Lego village, scavenger hunt, pet parade, and a talent competition. A new mini-horses exhibit and new carnival games for kids will also be on the grounds.

While strolling the fair’s exhibit building, also make sure to look out for this year’s theme: roosters. The more roosters an exhibit includes, the better it will be judged.

Note that Friday will be teen day with an all-day teen concert and amazing race.

Local artists such as Karen Cruise and Dave Forsberg will perform throughout the weekend.

Weekend camping is available.

Bulkley Valley Exhibition 
– Smithers, August 26-29
The theme for this year’s Bulkley Valley Exhibition is “Wonders of the Bulkley Valley.” Celebrating its 91st year, this fair offers bang for your buck. In addition to the usual agricultural exhibits and displays, there’s a rodeo, an amusement park and live entertainment. A parade also takes place in town the evening before the exhibition opens.

Live musicians this year include Appaloosa, Rachelle Van Zanten and Mark Perry. Sunday will also feature a gospel show and dance groups will perform throughout the weekend. Ventriloquist Neale Bacon will be here to entertain the kids.

The rodeo will showcase barrel racing, bull riding and goofy clowns. Old favourites such as the Zipper and bumper cars will be at the amusement park, but be sure to try the new mini-helicopters ride, too.

Some other newbies at the exhibition include the horse trainers’ challenge, a honey contest, a liberty challenge in the light horse division, and a grain and hay round-bale competition.

Weekend camping is available.

Hudson’s Hope Fall Fair 
– Hudson’s Hope, August 28
The Hudson’s Hope Fall Fair is a small community event in its 18th year. It takes place at the local arena. The vendors here change year to year. This year’s fair will have a variety of exhibits and educational displays including a petting zoo. Water sports and children’s races will also be part of the fun, as will a free pancake breakfast.

Lakes District Fall Fair 
– Burns Lake, September 10 – 12
The Lakes District Fall Fair celebrates its 67th anniversary this year. The fair aims to give local exhibitors a venue to showcase their products, and promote and educate the public about agriculture.

Taking place at the Eagle Creek Fairgrounds, this fair includes a variety of events and exhibits—livestock, produce and handicraft—as well as a small music festival. Must-sees include the heavy horse pull, tractor pull, petting zoo, idol contest and logger sports. The fair will also have a children’s activity area for the younger folk and a teen dance. Tasty Saturday eats include a morning pancake breakfast and a barbeque in the evening.

Fairgoers have the option of buying a day pass or weekend pass, or a weekend pass for the entire family. Camping is also available.

Still hungry for fun…

Though the following August and September northern BC events are not exactly fall fairs, they are still fun for the whole family.

Riverboat Days –Terrace 
July 30-August 8
Homestead Days – Prince George 
August 1-2
BC Day Celebration – New Hazelton 
August 2
Bear Festival – Stewart 
August 13-14
Pioneer Days – Hazeltons 
August 14
Mid-Autumn Festival – Barkerville: 
August 21-22
Summerfest – Prince George 
August 21-22
BBQ & Demolition Derby – Telkwa
September 4-6
Summer Harvest at Huble Homestead –Prince George 
September 5-6
Mennonite Fall Fair – Prince George
September 25
Rivers Day Music Festival – Prince George: September 26