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Kootenay Country Fair
Over the last few days, the mornings have been getting noticeably cooler. There is a crispness in the air and fall certainly is around the corner. The crispness in the air might signal the beginning of the end and is time to say ‘Good Bye’ to hot summer nights and flip-flops, however, now yards and gardens also yield their bounty and fall fairs give gardeners and artisans a chance to display their wares.
The Kootenay Country Fair has been celebrating harvest and crafting skills for 35 years. It is held at Fort Steele Heritage Town this Sunday, September 9, from 9 am to 4:30 pm. There will be something for everyone to see, from garden produce and scarecrows, home baking and preserves, to needlework and photography.
The historic setting at Fort Steele adds to the old-time appeal of this fair and with regular gate admission waived on fair day, this is an affordable day of fun, food and entertainment for the entire family. Prices are $4.50 for adults, $3.50 for seniors and children age 6 to 13. Families pay $13.50 and children under 6 are free.
Admission includes access to the entire heritage site and there will be lots of activities the entire day, from demonstrations and a petting zoo to face painting and games entertainers and caricatures. “We want to have a community family day,” explains Trudy Larsen a longtime volunteer with the fair.
Families will not have to go hungry either. There will be a pancake breakfast and barbecue lunch at the International Hotel and snacks are available from various concessions all day long. In fact, one of Larsen’s favourite memories of the fair has to do with food.
A few years ago, she and a fellow volunteer were taking a quick break. Sitting by the gazebo, watching the crowds, they encountered a scene that made them realize what the fair was all about. “What we saw was a family, sitting on a blanket on the grass, having a picnic lunch and having a fun day.”
But of course, the fair is also about exhibiting the products of people’s hard work in the garden or the kitchen, with a needle or using a camera, paint brush and lots of creativity. “It’s always nice for kids and adults as well to show their talent,” Larsen says.
There are dozens of categories people can enter, from the most unusual vegetable to best decorated giant cookie, best antipasto, most impressive scrapbook, most stunning photograph and everything in between.
Over the years, one of the most popular categories, Larsen states, has been ‘Reduce, Reuse & Recycle’ where adults and children create new products – either useful or artistic – from recycled material. “It’s quite amazing what they think of and use garbage for,” she says.
Entry forms for the fair can still be dropped off before 5pm on Tuesday, September 4, at Top Crop Garden, Farm & Pet and Cranbrook Photo in Cranbrook as well as Top Crop Too in Kimberley. Late entries may be displayed, but will not be judged.
All exhibits will have to be dropped off for judging at the Fort Steele opera house on Saturday, September 8, between 1:30 and 3:30 pm. There is a 50¢ charge per item. Items will then be displayed for the public all day Sunday, Whatever is not picked up by 4:30 pm that day is going up for auction and Larsen encourages visitors to stay and take part in this fun finale to the fair.
All the organizers of the Kootenay Country Fair are volunteers, so any money raised goes right back into paying for entertainment and other expenses. “We also give a bursary of $1,000 to a graduating student from Cranbrook each year and one to a Kimberley student,” Larsen adds. Holly Sperling from Mount Baker Secondary and Amy Cornelson from Selkirk Secondary were the most recent recipients of the bursary. Both students are pursuing careers in food studies, agriculture, horticulture or the arts.
Larsen knows that all this would not be possible without the help of community sponsors who support the fair by advertising in the booklet and sponsoring the individual categories. She also thanks the many people who participate in the juried exhibition, a large number of them returning year after year to show their skills.
Still have questions? You can call Trudy Larsen at 250-489-1956 or Fort Steele Heritage Town at 250-417-6000.