Equestrian events at the 2014 Pass Creek Fall Fair.

West Kootenay fall fairs mix tradition and innovation

Fall fairs celebrate rural life in various West Kootenay communities throughout September.

At the Pass Creek Fall Fair, one of the most popular attractions is the Dirty Diggers. Young children get a chance to sit with an adult operator on a mini-excavator or a bobcat and help the operator pick up rocks, push logs, and move earth around.

“It is a huge success,” says the fall fair organizer Donna Smith. “Kids just love it.”

But there are lots of more traditional attractions at the fall fair too, including competitions and prizes for flowers, wine, vegetables, baking, and photography.

Blacksmith demonstrations at the 2014 Pass Creek Fall Fair. Photo submitted.

“The one that has dropped off over the years is handiwork,” Smith says, “things like needlework and knitting. But there are still lots of lovely entries for quilts.”

“Canning is huge,” she says. “And people are getting into backyard chickens, so there are chicken and other poultry competitions, and a backyard farm livestock display. Kids love that. They usually don’t get to see those sorts of things.”

Smith says the agricultural part of the fair has grown in the event’s 22 years because more and more people are taking up gardening. And the fair tries to give children a taste of farming lifestyle.

Iron Chef competition at the 2014 Kootenay lake Fall Fair. Dena Kubota photo.

“We have ‘farmer for a day’ where kids can pick apples and dig potatoes and find eggs, and connect with where their food comes from,” Smith says.

Horse shows are an important part of the fall fair too, with a variety of both English and western events. Smith says the competitors tend to be teenagers or retired people getting back into horses.

Also: live music all day, mini-golf, a dog show, clowns, a blacksmith demo (“kids are enthralled with this”), a $5 entry fee, and a free bus from the Castlegar museum or the rec complex.

“I like seeing the families here with so many smiles,” says Smith. “We like to bring everything in except the commercialism. It’s a good old fashioned fall fair.”

The fair runs September 26 and 27 at the Pass Creek Fair Grounds.

Pass Creek is not the only fall fair with unique attractions.  The Kootenay Lake Fall Fair in Crawford Bay on Sept. 12 features goat races, in which children lead pygmy goats around a track. The goats don’t necessarily go in the direction the kids want them to, or as quickly.

And then there’s chicken bingo. A tarp is turned into a huge bingo card with coloured duct tape. Spectators buy one or several numbers. Two chickens (well-fed beforehand) are released onto the bingo card.

“The number on which a chicken poops first is the winning number,” says Nancy Galloway, one of the organizers of the fair.

“And we have an iron chef competition,” she says, in which the chefs may only use locally produced donated food.

“The only thing we buy for them is butter, oil, salt, and pepper. The winner gets the Spoon of Destiny, a carved wooden spoon with a brass plate on it.”

Exhibits at the 2014 Kootenay Lake Fall Fair. Dena Kubota photo

There are competitions and exhibits in needlework, baking, preserves, spirits, plants, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and photography. Last year’s baking competition was won by a 12-year-old, Galloway says.

And let’s not forget the no-hands pie-eating contest, raffles, a tug-of-war, and live music throughout.

The Kootenay Lake Fall Fair runs September 12 from noon to 5:00 p.m at the Crawford Bay Hall.

 

Other  fall fairs in the West Kootenay

 

Harrop Harvest Festival

Harrop Hall

Sept. 20, 10:00 to 4:00 p.m.

 

Nakusp and District Fall Fair

Nakusp Elementary School gym

September 12, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

 

Hills Garlic Festival

Centennial Park, New Denver

Sept 13, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

 

Cottonwood Market

Cottonwood Park, Nelson

Sept. 26, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

 

Rossland Fall Fair

Rossland Arena

Sept. 12, 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

 

Slocan Valley Fall Fair

Winlaw Hall

Sept 13, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

 

This story appears in the September 11 edition of the West Kootenay Advertiser.

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