People had a chance to interact with different animals at the petting zoo, participate in mutton busting, and buy everything local during the Fall Fair held in 2019. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)

55th Fall Fair in Vanderhoof cancelled

Alternative events eyed once again

The annual Nechako Valley Exhibition Fall Fair in Vanderhoof has been postponed for the second consecutive year.

Held in the third weekend of August, the exhibition grounds won’t be bustling as previous years.

“We had to make the decision due to uncertainty around COVID-19 restrictions,” said executive director Carolyn Leigh.

“It takes over 100 volunteers and one full year of planning in order to produce our event. It also takes tens of thousands of dollars with contracts with entertainers, so in order to commit those resources we held off as long as we could, but in the middle of winter, we felt like it might be a prudent idea not to run a fair with that level of commitment and uncertainty.”

While the traditional fall fair will not run, the exhibit division has some plans up their sleeves for alternative in-person and virtual events throughout August, thanks to Anne Egli and enthusiastic members who have been coming up with ideas.

Read More: 2020 Fall Fair challenge awards local artisans

The 4-H Achievement Day and Auction will also be held virtually once again.

“Fairs throughout British Columbia are quite a tight-knit organization, and so we all like to help each other this season,” Leigh said.

“We know that some are going forward and some aren’t, and we’d like to express our support to the other events that are going forward. The other thing is that we’re also a very resilient bunch, and so we’ve been coming up with other creative ways to support the community and provide events.”

An agricultural learning series on activities such as woodworking, blacksmithing, beekeeping and vegetable gardening is planned to roll out this July and possibly continue into August.

Full planning for upcoming fairs typically begins in October, and Leigh said they are hoping to go full steam ahead with the 2022 fall fair, with faith that enough of the population will be vaccinated and restrictions will be lifted.

“The impact of fairs, festivals and exhibitions in B.C. can’t be understated,” Leigh added, noting they promote the primary industries of the region, including agriculture and forestry.

The loss of the fair means an economic loss with rippling effects.

“The Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions estimates that a fair our size with about 6,000 people coming in generates three-quarters of a million dollars annually in terms of economic benefit, and so we don’t have these travelers coming through our region spending at restaurants and hotels and service stations and shops, and we don’t have the people coming in to show their animals and partake in competitions,” Leigh said.

Read More: Phase 1 of upgrades at Nechako Valley fairgrounds now complete


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