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Talking Trades: Provincial winter fair fun for the whole family

The annual event is now in its 80th year
The provincial winter fair is set for Sept. 21 to 24 at Circle Creek Ranch in Kamloops. (via Contributed)

What are y'all doing on Sept. 21 to 24?

Why not shine up your belt buckle and two-step over to Circle Creek Ranch for a weekend full of fun and events?

The provincial winter fair (PWF) is a 4-H project show and sale, a community fall fair, a historic stock show, and a celebration of regional youth and agriculture. Originally an exhibition of market steers and lambs, the show has expanded to include a variety of other 4-H divisions, including, at various times, horses, photography, dogs, rabbits, goats, and this year, gardening, crafts and poultry!

Carole Gillis is the vice-chair of the PWF committee. She is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the annual event. She gave me a lot of interesting information:

"The 4-H show remains at the heart of the PWF, and is the culmination of the 4-H members' hard work throughout the year, raising their livestock projects, or creating their static projects, all the while learning to do by doing.

"Our largest 4-H division is sheep, with approximately 100 sheep projects entered. We also feature a live auction, where the public can purchase premium 4-H beef and lamb at well-below supermarket prices."

I wanted to know how big the event is. How many people attend? Where are they from? Here is what Carole had to say:

"The event is not just for Kamloops residents. This year, over 100 4-H members are registered to exhibit at the PWF. They are from the Shuswap, Pritchard, Westwold, Clinton, Merritt, Ashcroft, the North Thompson and Kamloops.

"In recent years, in an effort to celebrate the broader agricultural offerings of the region, the provincial winter fair has included educational offerings from Poultry in Motion and the Kamloops Beekeepers, and sheep shearing, cow milking, and horse shoeing demonstrations, among other activities.

"To ensure the entertainment of all fairgoers, we have added a fun kids' zone, with inflatables (Jump'n Jax Entertainment), Uncle Chris the Clown, face painters, and Wild Bill's Pig and Duck races. The Forward Law Mainstage features a variety of local entertainers throughout the fair.

"We are also excited this year to be adding Grapes & Grill – a wine-pairing event with Harper's Trail Winery and local beef and lamb producers. That event will take place Saturday, Sept. 22 at the fairgrounds at Circle Creek, and tickets are available from the PWF office.

"Because this year marks the 80th anniversary of the PWF, we are hosting a pioneer tea on Sunday afternoon (before the judging of the Grand Champion steer!) and the Pioneer Event Saturday night will celebrate a local rancher from a pioneer ranching family, as we do each year."

Some more details: Gates are open 9 a.m to 5 p.m. each day, and admission is free for the sale on Monday. 

"Once in, all activities are free. Kids day is Friday, so if your kids are looking for something to do on the non-instructional day (Sept. 21), the first 100 children ages six to 12 are admitted free with an adult (thank you Valley First Insurance). No smoking and no dogs on the fairgrounds, please. We are also seeking some volunteers for the kids' zone, and still looking for a few 4-H class sponsors."

I asked Carole what kind of values the PWF upholds and where it is going in the future:

"The PWF upholds the value of youth development as embodied in the 4-H program, but furthers it with recognition of local agriculture and food production and a mandate to educate the public on local food production. That means that in addition to providing a venue for our 4-H members to shine, we also need to attract the public and entertain them, while we show them what the agricultural community is doing.

"With growing interest in food security and an ever-increasing awareness of the importance of youth development programs, we only see 4-H and the provincial winter fair growing.

"Our most immediate goal is providing a permanent home for the PWF through the efforts of the Kamloops Exhibition Association as we are rapidly outgrowing the facility at Circle Creek.

"We hope to generate interest throughout the community for an agricultural exhibition facility in Kamloops – one that could host a wide variety of events from stock shows to trade shows – and one that would be a permanent home for the PWF.

"Removing the uncertainty of location would free up our committee to develop a community event that would once again be central to Kamloops agriculture and production, and reflective of its growing diversity."

Well, what do you say Kamloops? It is clear the PWF has fun, educational activities for everyone and we can support our agricultural community at the same time.

Hope to see y'all there!

Talking Trades is a regular KamloopsMatters column by Shannon Ainslie. Ainslie has worked in the trades for many years and loves to blog on the side. You can follow her at or on Twitter (@ainslie_shannon).