The 65th Annual North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo is now in the history books. For three days this popular event has once again taken over the small rural community of Barriere with over 10,000 visitors attending.
Despite a major thunder storm, complete with hail and torrential rain for a short period of time on the Saturday, for the most part the weather was amiable with bright sun for the big Saturday parade, and a few light rain showers to keep the dust down on Sunday.
Visitors came from all over B.C.; Vancouver Island, the Kootenays, Thompson-Okanagan, and northern communities as far away as Stewart, Fort St. John and more. There were a number of visitors who made the trip from Alberta and Washington state.
Many different languages were also heard over the three days as visitors from other countries attended to experience the flavour of a “down home country fair”, and to see “Canadian cowboys” and a “real live rodeo”. German, Russian, and Austrian visitors were just a few of the oversees guest this reporter had an opportunity to chat with.
The Agriplex building was filled with beef and sheep entries and competitions, with its adjacent hall featuring the history and heritage of the fall fair, and of Barriere. The Exhibit Hall was filled to capacity with numerous entries and displays that truly depict the lifestyle and talents of valley residents. From baking and canning, gardening, food production, and on to crafts, sewing, fiber arts, fine arts, wood working, children’s school work and more. Truly an admirable display of what those in the North Thompson Valley are all about.
The fairgrounds were filled with numerous concessions, vendors and amusements for fair goers to enjoy as they checked out livestock shows and barns.
The Interior Savings Outdoor Stage had a first class group of entertainers throughout the fair, with a Cowboy Church featured on the Sunday morning. The Cowboy Concert on Sunday night featured guest appearances by recording artist Eli Barsi and the all girl cowboy band Horse Crazy.
A no alcohol family dance on Friday night and a 4H movie night on Saturday night offered great entertainment for all age groups.
Heavy Horse pulls and driving competitions, a Heritage Horse Show and a Gymkhana kept those with an equine spirit well fed, while those wanting more fast paced action filled the rodeo arena.
Three days of BCRA rodeo action, pony chariot and chuck wagon racing, Hearts of The West Trick Riders, and lawnmower races kept most folks glued to their seats throughout the weekend.
Visitors to the Agriplex were noticeably impressed by five sections of brand new grandstands, courtesy of support received from the District of Barriere and the TNRD. Fair officials say that there are a few more sets to put together yet, and that when all of the grandstands have been put together the Agriplex will be able to seat 1500 spectators during its events.
Other new features spotted at the fairgrounds this year was a closed circuit video feed from the rodeo arena into an indoor seating area in the food court, giving seniors and those with mobility problems an opportunity to enjoy the rodeo in comfort; and also three large golf carts for helping folks to move around the grounds – all courtesy of a New Horizons grant.
The brand new announcers booth and VIP seating area over the chutes in the rodeo arena were impressive, and a number of visitors commented they were happy to see the upgrades taking place in that area.
Organizers say they will have a better idea of how this great economic driver for the region faired “after the dust settles”, but say that “by all appearances the 65th annual North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo was just great!”