There couldn’t have been too many people ‘down on the farm’ over the Labour Day weekend, as it appeared that most of them were attending the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo in Barriere.
This year’s 62nd annual event went off without a hitch, and according to Association treasurer, Leslie Stirling, “It was our best fair yet!”
Organizers report the admissions were up this year as fair visitors flocked to the three day event. Overnight RV’ers set a new record, and one source noted the extremely hot weather kept the beer garden running at full speed to keep up with the demand.
The top item of interest for fair visitors this year was the Associations newly constructed North Thompson Agriplex which was utilized for the first time during the event. Although a long way yet from being fully completed, the 30,000 square foot building provided a bright, roomy, and shaded environment for the 4H Beef Show, plus a number of sheep competitions and demonstrations as well. The beef animals were stabled in the Agriplex, and contestants were thrilled to find brand new wash racks just outside the north facing door where they could bathe their project animals.
It seems that volunteers had put in many long days, and nights, to get the building ready for the fair; wash racks, water hook ups, electricity and lighting, footing in the building, doors, and venue set-up, were all completed in record time with final touches being done as the animals moved in.
The balance of the building was filled with agricultural and equipment displays, commercial booths, and extensive information about the building. There was also a donation box for those who wanted to join the growing list of numerous people who have donated towards the construction of the Agriplex.
Outside the Fall Fair was stuffed with livestock and 4h competitions, food concessions, and commercial vendors. An eye-popping number of displays and entries were showcased in the exhibit hall, and youngsters enthusiastically took on the climbing wall, bouncy castles, super slide, rodeo roper, and mechanical bull. The mechanical bull was as usual a hit with adults as well, and kept everyone laughing as ‘El Diablo’ battled it out with some tough cowboys and cowgirls.
The BCRA three day rodeo was so well attended that for the first time this year organizers had to hold runoff, or ‘slack’, competitions on the Friday evening so as to be able to accommodate the large number of entries for the weekend.
The pony chuckwagon racers were back in force, but unfortunately this year a lack of pony chariot racers caused the cancellation of this favourite event. “We hope we’ll be back with the chariot racers next year,” said one of the drivers who usually competes in this division.
Of note was a moving dedication that was made in the rodeo arena on Saturday to the memory of well known cowboy Mike Puhallo, and to pony chariot/chuckwagon racer Sam Moore; both of whom have been long standing participants in the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo for many, many years.
The Cowboy Concert, Entertainment Stage, and new this year, an open mic in the food court, provided steady entertainment for all ages and musical tastes.
The big parade on Saturday created quite a show for townsfolk and visitors, and the opening ceremonies were attended by Chief Nathan Matthew, MP Cathy McLeod, and MLA Terry Lake.
“This is our 62nd Fall Fair and Rodeo,” said NTFFRA acting president Jill Hayward, “The volunteers who come forward each year to put on the fair are amazing, we couldn’t do it without them.”