Some of the most unique fair experiences can be had in odd corners of the country and the Bulkley Valley Exhibition in Smithers, British Columbia is a perfect example. Halfway between the American and Yukon borders north-to-south and halfway between Prince George and Prince Rupert east-to-west, Smithers and the Bulkley Valley have often been described by non-residents as being distinct from the rest of Northern British Columbia. Many factors contribute to the composition of society in Smithers, including the arts, environmental protection, and local industries such as forestry, mining and, of course, agriculture.
Smithers has adopted an alpine theme, which is drawn from the geography of the area. A town bylaw requires businesses in the downtown area centred on Main Street to construct their buildings in an alpine style. A fibreglass statue of a man blowing an alpine horn, commonly referred to as The Alpenman or Alpine Al, is located at the entrance to the main street and has become the town symbol. Similarly, the Smithers Chamber of Commerce displays an Alpine Al costume at community events and in television advertisements for the town’s businesses.
Residents of Smithers are called ‘Smithereens’ which remains a more popularly accepted title than the sometimes used ‘Smitherites’.
Now the invitation is out to join them for the annual exhibition. From sheep to broncos, chocolate cake to handmade quilts and everything in between, it is at the Bulkley Valley Exhibition, featuring local musicians, artists, crafters, gardeners, farmers, riders and ranchers, and Shooting Star Amusements Midway.
This year the Bulkley Ex will be hosting the Angus Gold Show along with the rest of its beef, dairy, swine, sheep, goats and small animal shows, the West Coast Lumberjacks and a Corporate Lumberjack Challenge. Locals will compete in logger sports competitions in men, women and ‘future logger’ divisions.
Horses are a main event in Smithers, with extreme bull riding and rodeo events, draft horse pulls and competitions, Appaloosa, American Paint and American Quarter horses, driving and dressage competitions. Don’t miss the Trainers’ Challenge, with defending Champion trainer Kyle Mills back again — three horses, three trainers, three judges over three days of amazing training and showmanship!
Local and regional artists as well as top name bands like country rock band “Sweet Tequila” and featured artists “The Arrogant Worms” provide a tuneful counterpoint to the dust and sweat and noise. (The Arrogant Worms began as a comedy troupe 20 years ago, performing songs and sketches on the campus radio station in Kingston, ON.)
The 93rd annual Bulkley Valley Exhibition goes August 23 – 26th in Smithers, British Columbia. If you are planning to be anywhere in the vicinity (measured in hundreds of miles in Northern BC), you won’t want to miss it! Check out http://www.bvfairs.ca for more details. On site camping available.