The 89th annual Dawson Creek Exhibition and Stampede begins next Wednesday, Aug. 10, and runs through to Sunday, Aug. 14. The Fall Fair, as it is also known, will once again include a professional rodeo, two professional chuckwagon events, midway rides, agricultural exhibits, a trade show, live music and much, much more.
"It's the largest event we do as a town," said Connie Patterson, president of the Dawson Creek Exhibition Association. "We bring in over 30,000 people, so it's almost three times the size of our town that is here for five or six days. It's huge for restaurants, for grocery stores, for hotels and motels, and of course, it's a great way to showcase agriculture in our community."
No admission is charged when the exhibition grounds open at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, so spectators can come down and check out 4-H exhibits and other displays. The events starting on the rodeo infield track that evening include both the Western Chuckwagon Association and World Professional Chuckwagon Association races, as well as the Crazy Cow Girls Trick Riding team, Kids Wild Horse Race, and the Schilds Kurjata Kids Calf Scramble, but those events are by admission.
Thursday is "Sneak-a-Peak" day, where once again admission will not be charged when the fair grounds open at 10 a.m. Events featured will be light and heavy horse shows and sheep shows, as well as agricultural, horticultural and handicraft exhibits.
Patrons can also check out the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association's "Behind the Chutes" program – which focuses on how rodeo stock and other fair animals are treated and cared for – as well as the Exceptional Rodeo, starting at 11:00 a.m. at the rodeo infield, free of charge.
Admission will be charged for the rest of the Fall Fair, with the grounds opening at 7 a.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday is the beginning of the Wrangler Canadian Pro Rodeo Tour, with a grand entry starting at 1:15 p.m.
A new event on Friday is the Bayer Steer Classic at 6 p.m., where ranchers will put their finished cattle up to be judged for quality for a chance at cash prices. After the show, Vold, Jones and Vold Auction Company will auction off the market steers.
"Anybody who wants to buy beef for their freezer, this would be a wonderful opportunity," said Patterson. "Whoever buys the grand champion steer, the cutting and wrapping is paid for, Lawrence Meat Packing has donated that."
Friday and Saturday will feature the BC Angus Gold Show, one of only two such shows in the province. The "supreme bull" and "supreme cow" go on to compete in the Royal Bank Cup in Regina against the winners from nine other fairs in Canada and six in the United States.
"Championship Sunday" features the final rodeo and chuckwagon events, including the $10,000 "Dash for Cash" for the World Professional Chuckwagon Association Finals, and a $5,000 "Dash for Cash" for the Western Chuckwagon Association Finals.
"There's a lot of money at stake, and that's why we call it "Championship Sunday,'" said Patterson.
Sunday also includes the Kids Wild Horse Race Finals.
Patterson said this year the grandstand at the rodeo infield will have two sections of reserved seating that will be included in five-day passes for $160 per person.
Food and trade fair booths will also be open throughout the Fall Fair, as well as the West Coast Amusements Midway. Evenings will include live music by Fort St. John's own Deere John Band in the "Waterin' Hole" beer gardens, as well as fireworks displays on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, while during the day the sound stage will host the Rising Star Talent Show on Friday and Saturday and a gospel music festival on Sunday.
There will be 30-passenger carriage rides offered starting at noon on Friday from the EnCana Events Centre parking lot and nearby camping grounds to the exhibition grounds, provided by McCoy Carriage.
Patterson said they have most of the volunteers they need for the event, with the exception of night security. She added most of their sponsorships have been met, but there may be a few more spots open until this Friday.
For more information on the Dawson Creek Exhibition and Stampede, including a full schedule of events and information on prices, go online to www.dawsoncreekfair.com, or call the Dawson Creek Exhibition Association office at 782-8911.