Maple Ridge Country Fest goat and piglet
By Cheryl Rhodes
Do you remember going to good old-fashioned country fairs as a kid? Or maybe you heard about country fairs from your parents or grandparents. Country fairs were huge community events with neighbours competing against each other to be the best in their category: baking cakes, painting masterpieces, harvesting the largest pumpkin, and growing the best apples.
Fairs are still held in communities all over British Columbia – in mall parking lots, fairgrounds, and even in local parks – often coinciding with another event such as school spring break or Canada Day celebrations. Due to space limitations at smaller fairs there usually aren’t any local businesses selling their wares, agriculture displays, or craft contests. These smaller fairs usually consist of amusement park rides, midway games of chance, and vendors selling fair food: mini donuts, deep fried Oreo cookies, and corn dogs.
It wasn’t so many years ago when community fairs meant the kids who lived on farms brought in cows they’d been raising and farmers brought in the pick of their crop, hoping to be judged the best in the region. Mothers would bake cakes, cookies, and other delicacies hoping to bring home a blue ribbon. Fair food, especially candy apples, cotton candy, and lemonade ruled the day and everyone wanted to ride the ferris wheel. Who remembers the greased pig contest? A pig greased with corn oil or mud would be set loose in an arena, usually a muddy enclosure, and boys and girls would chase after the pig and whoever caught it got to take it home. The real fun was watching all the kids get covered in muck chasing the pig.
There won’t be a greased pig contest, but there will be live pigs on display in the livestock barn if you want to relive those good old days of an old-fashioned country fair at the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Country Fest. The fair is held at the Albion Fairgrounds on July 27 & 28, 2013 and the best part is free admission. Parking costs $2 and cars are parked across the street in a mowed down corn field. That really brings back the country atmosphere – kicking up a cloud of dust while finding a parking spot on a dirt field.
Besides being excellent value and an easy commute from most Lower Mainland communities, the Country Fest is an opportunity to see the value of agriculture – produce and livestock – through displays and demonstrations. In addition to agriculture presentations, the Country Fest is a stage for baking, crafts, entertainers, and promoting community life. Exhibitors hoping to win ribbons and small cash prizes will be competing in categories of crafts, hobbies, needlework, painting, woodwork, candle making, photography, scrapbooking, gardening, cooking, wine and beer, and more.
The Country Fest features a wonderful exhibition of items that presenters have lovingly taken the time to create. There are mouth-watering baked goodies like cookies, bread, cakes, candies, and pies. Have you ever wished you had more time to spend canning produce that has been freshly picked? At the Country Fest you’ll see jars of jam and marmalade and many types of canned goods featuring locally grown fruit and vegetables. This year there is also a category for “dinner for two” where contestants are judged on their menu choices, creativity, and originality.
There are categories for garden produce ranging from displays of freshly picked vegetables, fruit and berries, to cut flower arrangements and potted plants.
There will be a horse show, and 4H groups and other farmers will be showing their sheep, goats, cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals.
Some other attractions are the flyball dog show, the sheep dog herding demonstration, amusement park rides, midway games, fair food, and entertainers performing on the main stage.
The Albion Fairgrounds is located at 23415-105th Avenue, Maple Ridge, just off the Lougheed Highway, about an hour’s drive from Vancouver. The hours of the Country Fest are 10am to 10pm on Saturday, July 27, and 10am to 6pm on Sunday, July 28. For more information, visit their website http://www.mrpmcountryfest.com/
Published: July 18, 2013
Cheryl Rhodes writes from Surrey, British Columbia where she lives with two dogs and three horses. She’s the author of 5 novels and a cookbook, and enjoys traveling, photography, swimming, geocaching, reading, and writing mysteries. Visit her at www.cherylrhodes.com