Focusing on accessibility and appealing to young families, the Williams Lake 41st Annual Harvest Fair kicks off this weekend from Sept. 8-9.
Tammy Tugnum, president of the Harvest Fair organizing committee, took a moment away from setup to highlight some of the fair’s main attractions this year. While she heads the committee, she said pulling off the fair is really the collaborative effort of the entire committee.
“Not only do we do the fair, but the cadets come and do our gates for us, the hockey team from Total Ice came and did all our setup, because there’s 100-plus tables in the Williams Lake Curling Club,” Tugnum said. “It’s really a community event, then we get other service non-profit groups to come and help us run it because we just don’t have enough volunteers.”
In the exhibit hall hosted in the curling club, Tugnum said, there will be a photography sections, baking and canning booths and “quite a prolific” quilting section. A botanical section will also be featured with fruits, vegetables and flowers, Mother Nature allowing.
While the majority of the vendors and participants at the fair will be from Williams Lake, Tugnum said they’ve had people register from across the Cariboo Chilcotin region, with some coming from as far away as Vancouver Island. “People love to come and see what their friends, neighbours and family have been entering in the fair,” Tugnum said. “There’s a lot of really super talented people within this community.”
Tugnum said she feels the exhibits and vendors all represent a certain shared part of the Williams Lake’s community.
A big focus this year will be on children and younger families, according to Tugnum, with a large dedicated children’s section set aside.
“We’ve geared the majority of our entertainment towards children this year,” Tugnum said. The committee has hired professional Juggler Matt Henry, performing on Sept. 8 at 2 p.m. and Sept. 9 at 11 a.m, ventriloquist and puppeteer Kellie Haines, set to perform 11 a.m. on Sept. 8 and 2 p.m. on the Sept. 9, and Uncle Chris the Clown on the Sept. 8-9 at 1 p.m. Each headline performer will also be roaming the fairgrounds in between shows throughout the weekend, according to Tugnum.
Within the exhibit hall will be several other entertainers, offering their services throughout the weekend. Renowned caricaturist Ted Couling will be providing his witty and comedic cartoons alongside face painting and balloons provided by Hattie & Amos Entertainment, all for free.
On the Stampede Grounds on Sunday there will be a pet parade, a dog obedience competition and a Gymkhana event. Tugnum said that the traditional horse wagon rides available at the fair will not be done this year, due to health concerns for the horses related to a lack of exercise due to smoke from the wildfires, but said she and the committee are working on an alternative.
Thanks to generous donations from United Way and affiliated organizations, admission will be free for all throughout the entire weekend, for which Tugnum said she remains deeply grateful for. “Come to the gate, get your ticket ripped, it’s absolutely free this year thanks to their generosity,” Tugnum said.
A free pancake breakfast will also be available on Sunday, provided by the Williams Lake Rotary Club, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. with the theme of Cariboo Strong, in honour of last year’s wildfire season. Tugnum said the breakfast will be hosted in the Letter Box Saloon behind the grandstand, though she jokes it will be a pancake house on that day.
READ MORE: Preparing for the Williams Lake Harvest Fair
She said that tons of concessions will be available throughout the weekend including The Sugar Shack, the Fennel Cup and a concession set up by the Sacred Heart Youth Group.
“We’re really proud of our fair, because in B.C. there was a time when there used to be over 80 fairs in this province. We’re now down into the low 50s,” Tugnum said, “So if it wasn’t for the support of the community entering all the exhibits into the fair, I don’t think it would exist anymore.” Tugnum said she hopes to see the fair “packed from stern to stem” and invites all of Williams Lake to come experience everything the fair has to offer this weekend.
“We work all year for this weekend and we hope to see everyone there at the fair.”