North Thompson Star/Journal editor, Jill Hayward, was presented with the Canadian Fair Champion Award at the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions annual conference held in Banff, Alberta, for her volunteer work with the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Association in the community of Barriere, B.C. Bob Hayward photo:

North Thompson Fall Fair president Jill Hayward receives Canadian Fair Champion Award

Louis Creek resident and North Thompson Star/Journal editor, Jill Hayward, was presented with the Canadian Fair Champion Award at the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions annual conference held in Banff, Alberta. The conference took place from Nov. 21 – 23 at the Banff Centre of the Arts with some 300 delegates attending from across Canada.

The Canadian Fair Champion Award is selected from nominations across Canada. Recipients are “to exemplify unselfish dedication to community, and have gone beyond and above the “call of duty” for their local fair or exhibition”. The Canadian Fair Champions Competition is administered by the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (CAFE). CAFE is a national nonprofit organization which fosters excellence in leadership in the Canadian Fair Industry by providing programs, resources and leadership.

Hayward was nominated by members of the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Association (NTFFRA) and the submission was spearheaded by Jane Milburn, Barb Denton and Donna Kibble.

This newspaper asked Hayward about how she felt receiving this award?

“I was actually stunned when the secretary called me from CAFE,” said Hayward, “At first I thought she was asking for our fair to send in a nomination! I was amazed when I understood that I was a recipient – I had no idea I had even been nominated!”

The award also came with an all expense paid trip to the CAFE Conference in Banff, and Hayward says the trip was especially good as hubby Bob also attended with her.

“We had a great trip there and back and were fortunate to miss that big snowstorm in Calgary on Friday morning. The weather was great, and I was able to attend a number of CAFE workshops and problem solve and share information with other fair managers and board members.”

Hayward says she felt somewhat uncomfortable in accepting the award when NTFFRA exists on volunteer support provide by “so many good people”.

“There are so many dedicated volunteers and constant sponsors and supporters who help us to make our annual Fall Fair and Rodeo and the facility all that it can be,” said Hayward, “I may have been the only one who stood on stage to accept the award but I know there are dozens of people in our fall fair family who should have been there with me as well. And first and foremost is my husband Bob, who spends many days on his own wondering if his wife will ever come home from the fairgrounds!”

The CAFE Canadian Fair Champion Award was won by other NTFFRA board members; in 2013 by Karl Rainer of Darfield, and in 2014 by Leslie Stirling of Barriere.

Here are excerpts from Hayward’s nomination submitted by NTFFRA director Jane Milburn to CAFE.

“Jill has been a member of the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Association working as the publicity convener for many years, before she became vice-president in 2005. She held the position of president 2007 to 2009, then again from 2012 to our present day, all the while still holding the job of publicity convener for the fair. Because of Jill, we get tremendous coverage of our fair. She works very well with the politicians, both locally and provincially.

“In 2011, Jill was vice-chair, and later co-chair of the construction of the North Thompson Agriplex, a 30,000 square foot building erected in six months on our fairgrounds. The plan for this building was to house not only livestock events, but also serve as a multi-use facility. With this committee at the helm they started in March, raised over $400,000, and housed part of our annual fall fair, and also the Provincial Winter Fair in it in September. This facility has been used for many large events, including the Canadian Sheep Breeders Show, indoor rodeos, New Year’s Eve Bullaramas, major cattle penning events, trade shows, the annual BC Ag Expo for 4-H, many weddings, open riding, and housing our beef and sheep show at our fair.

“Jill has been the facilitator, looking after the bookings in the Agriplex, since the beginning and still is – it is a huge job in itself. However, she also looks after the bookings for the whole fairgrounds facility throughout the year. There are many rodeos, horse events, logging shows, an annual Elvis Festival, Back Country Horseman events, and many 4-H events.

“The Agriplex was a huge improvement to our fairgrounds. Under Jill’s guidance we also built a covered outdoor eating area with a barbecue and picnic tables, a new 20 stall horse barn, and put in an underground sprinkling system. All this was done without going into debt.

“Jill is instrumental in securing sponsorships and grants for us. Amongst others, she helped us secure a large enough grant to get steel panels for the Agriplex and a three year sponsorship from Pacific Western Brewing this year. Because of Jill working in the media industry, she has also enlisted Black Press Media as an ongoing platinum advertising sponsor for our fair.

“Last year Jill put Barriere on the map when she opened up the fairgrounds to hold just under 600 animals who were evacuated due to B.C.’s wildfires. To do this she orchestrated and managed over 100 volunteers from the first week in July until the middle of September.

“She did all this while working a full-time job and overseeing the upcoming Fall Fair. Jill has been with the North Thompson Star/Journal since 1993, and has been in the editor chair since 2004. She has won awards for outstanding community journalism and photography. She has won the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, the British Columbia Community Achievement Award, and has received a Canada 150 Medal.

“Jill has a relentless passion for her community and is a strong advocate for agriculture and agritourism. She has a special ability to bring people together in working for a common goal. Her cheerful drive to get things done is contagious.

“As well as serving as president of our North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Association, she also serves on the board of directors for the Lower North Thompson Tourism Association, and is the Literacy Outreach Coordinator for Barriere and area.

“All the while our fair is foremost in Jill’s mind. She is constantly thinking of ways to improve it and make it grow. She is a dedicated leader and volunteer, always giving of her time to whomever. We all go to Jill with our problems. Many times she is stretched in different directions, but seems to always manage to treat each case individually and with class. She is the heart and backbone of our fair. She goes about her work, never seeking or asking for recognition. One night one of our members couldn’t sleep and went on facebook at midnight. Who responded to her, but Jill. When asked what she was doing at that time of night, her reply was that she was answering questions about our up-coming fall fair to someone in Germany! You may find Jill mopping the hall floor, cleaning out a horse stall or painting a fence. It is great to have this high energy, positive lady as our leader. We are very lucky to have her.”

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