“Hunky” Bill Konyk at the PNE Fair in an undated photo.

PNE food legend ‘Hunky’ Bill Konyk dies days before 2019 fair opens

Family-operated Hunky Bill’s business has spanned three generations

Just days before the PNE is set to begin for another summer, fair food legend “Hunky” Bill Konyk has died, according to a PNE statement. He was 88.

“Bill passed away peacefully last night, surrounded by his family,” a media release stated Wednesday morning (Aug. 14).

“It is with incredible sadness that the Pacific National Exhibition acknowledges the passing of the one of one of our longest standing concessionaires and iconic members of our Fair family, Bill Konyk, known across the Canadian fair industry as Hunky Bill.”

The Winnipeg-born Konyk was “a beloved member of the extended PNE family for 52 years, beginning, as the legend has it, when the then Vancouver based radio executive bet a friend $10 that he could get a booth at the PNE to sell his homemade Ukrainian style perogies.

“The story goes that Bill showed up at the PNE administration office and spent an hour and a half convincing the then head of the PNE booth sales department to give him a chance. Konyk got his booth, won his $10 and began a 52-year journey during which time Hunky Bill has become one of the most iconic pitchmen and restaurateurs in Canadian history.”

CLICK HERE to read more Hunky Bill’s history on the company website.

Many years ago, as a freelance sports reporter, Konyk met and interviewed many sports celebrities including Mickey Mantle, Casey Stengel, Bobby Hull, Yogi Berra and Ted Williams. “Casey Stengel called him the Crazy Canuck after watching him consume his favorite beverage – beer,” says a post at hunkybills.com/history.

By 1967, Konyk worked as general manager of the CFUN radio station in Vancouver, at a time when he also imported Ukrainian food from Winnipeg.

The family-operated Hunky Bill’s business has spanned three generations, according to PNE spokesperson Laura Ballance.

The food stand has been a fixture at events across the province, including Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair.

“Bill’s loving wife Kay and three sons Bill Jr., Clayton, and Mark will continue on the tradition of serving the best Ukrainian food in the city.

“Hunky Bill will be incredibly missed by his many friends and family across Canada, including all those in his PNE Fair family.”

• RELATED STORY:

The 2019 PNE Fair: What’s new, what’s not and when to visit

Just Posted

Australian gold mining giant acquires Red Chris mine

Newcrest now owns 70 per cent of the mine south of Iskut and operatorship

Pride crosswalk too expensive to install says municipal council

Mayor and council have asked staff to investigate whether a bench with a plaque supporting the LGBTQ+ community is feasible

Skeena Watershed reopened for recreational pink and coho

Four sections and tributaries remain closed

Skeena-Bulkley Valley candidates react to finding Trudeau broke ethics law

The election campaign is heating up before the writ has even dropped

VIDEO: Could we BE any more excited? ‘Friends’ fans go crazy for merch

Movie theatres will show select episodes to mark the NBC series’ 25th anniversary

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Five hedgehogs quickly adopted after being left at BC SPCA

Lucky new owners picked up their pets from Maple Ridge branch on Aug. 20

B.C. cricket players get interrupted by racist remark

Community has had protocols in place for years to respond to prejudice

Groovy B.C. wedding a throwback to Woodstock ‘69

Couple hosts themed wedding 50 years after legendary festival

Nearly 50% of Canadians experience ‘post-vacation blues’: poll

48 per cent of travellers are already stressed about ‘normal life’ while still on their trip

More women may need breast cancer gene test, U.S. guidelines say

Recommendations aimed at women who’ve been treated for BRCA-related cancers and are now cancer-free

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Most Read