After a two-year absence, the Nechako Valley Exhibition is back on schedule.
The 54th summer exhibition takes place Aug. 19 to 21 at the exhibition grounds off Northside Road. But despite COVID closing down the event for the past two years, organizers haven’t been idle.
“We’ve run a number of alternative events. To kind of keep activities going for the community, but in line with provincial health mandates,” said Carolyn Leigh, executive director of the exhibition society. “So we had some smaller events sprinkled out through the month of August in the last two years, but we have not had a traditional three-day fair format since 2019.
Getting through the last two years was tough, according to Leigh, but everyone involved is happy to be back on track. “We’re really excited to get back to doing what we know and love,” she said.
Leigh said a lot of the favourite events, like the draft horse and light horse events will be back, but they’ve also added a few new events to the schedule.
“We have lawnmower races this year, for the first time. We’re pretty excited about that,” said Leigh, adding that they also have a farmhand challenge with new obstacles, along with an expanded draft horse pull with the highest payout ever awarded.
“We’re hoping to bring out the giants of the draft horse world to come and try,” said Leigh, adding that there also is room for humans to do some pulling themselves in the tractor pull.
“That’s an event that we started a couple of years ago. We thought it would just be kind of a fun event. And sponsors kind of piled on which was awesome,” said Leigh, adding that Taylor brothers Home Hardware is sponsoring the total of the prize money, which is $1,000. “So the winning top three teams get to donate that money to a local charity of their choice.”
The main goal, Leigh said, is to provide three days for the community to get together and have a lot of fun.
“Just come out and have a laugh and be together,” said Leigh. Over the past couple of years, she continued, they heard people expressing their disappointment the exhibition was cancelled.
“A lot of people in this town have grown up with the fair. From the time that they were little …they were coming up and enjoying the horse events or they would love to go into the small animal barn and see all of the animals,” she said. “A lot of people have first memories of growing fruits or vegetables for the exhibit building.
“So, people really have missed it a lot. There was a lot of sadness kind of in the community when we couldn’t run it. And since we started promoting the fair heavily and really getting back on board, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of community support, both from individuals and local businesses.
“I think it was kind of a missing component of people’s lives over the last couple of years.”