The Fall Fair is back.
In a letter to sponsors dated June 1, the Bulkley Valley Agricultural and Industrial Association said it is “over the moon excited” to make the announcement that the Bulkley Valley Exhibition (BVX) is on for 2021.
“With our open-air facility and proper social distancing protocol in place, the 102nd BVX will be a safe and fun event this summer,” the letter said.
It noted the May 25 announcement of B.C.’s phased restart program finalized planning that has been ongoing since the beginning of the year.
“It was the goal of the board of the BVX to offer something this year, we just didn’t know how big we could be,” said Jan McClary, BVX. general manager. “Now we’re looking at maybe being able to host just about everything we usually host, not the Canine Stars because they come from the States, unfortunately, but we’re going to be able to get them back next year.”
The rodeo, draft horse, light horse, loggers’ sports, 4-H show and sale, Kid’s Zone shows and petting farm all will be back, as well as the Shooting Star Midway and main stage acts.
The rodeo will be cut to three days from four, but other than that the other events should be typical of past years, McLary said.
While the fair will be pretty much what people have come to expect, there are still a few uncertainties that will be dependent on the June 15 and July 1 announcements from B.C.’s public health officer regarding the government’s Restart Plan, which is contingent on the province meeting targets for new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and vaccination rates.
Primary among the uncertainties, though, is the status of the opening parade.
“That may have to wait until the June 15th or even July 1st announcement because that’s one place where people just don’t, there’s just no such thing as social distancing at that parade,” McClary said.
Most of these uncertainties pertain to the rodeo, vis a vis, what size of rodeo crowds will be allowed.
“That’s what we’re prepared for,” McClary said. “We can scale back the audiences. If we have to charge to get into the rodeo that may have to happen, but right now we’re hoping it will all be wide open by then and it will be business as usual.
“Really, (the government is) only concerned about the shoulder-to-shoulder, which is our grandstand. In our open-air facilities, like our mall, all the vendors, 85 per cent have confirmed they’re coming back and that’s normal.”
While the board is anticipating a return to relative normalcy, that does not mean there won’t be some modifications to procedures particularly with respect to the midway, but McClary said Justin Wagner, Shooting Stars owner, is prepared.
“Since he’s also all open-air, we would probably follow what the PNE (Pacific National Exhibition) is doing for Playland,” McLary said. “Expect to be in lines, maybe fewer people on a ride, so it may take a little longer to get through, but that’s if there are limitations. But he’s prepared with more fencing, more staff to handle the cleaning of the rides in between etcetera.”
And she does not expect to see bouncy castles this year.
New for 2021, Grampa’s Tractors, the collection of 43 antique tractors compiled by John and Leny Boonstra over the years will now be on display all year round at the BVX. There will also be a permanent historical display to go with the tractors.