Fair part of area history

With the theme We've Got a Good Thing Growing: 107 Years of Community, the fall fair will be held at the exhibition grounds from Aug. 15 to 18.

Organizers of the British Columbia Northern Exhibition (BCNE) have some new events on the schedule along with plenty of old favourites.

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Food is always a big part of any fair and the BCNE is no different.

There's a food court that offers a wide range of cuisine, while there's the usual fair treats like cotton candy, candy apples, corn dogs and mini donuts on the menu.

The mandate for the fall fair is to promote and showcase local agriculture. The themes are Buy B.C. and Every Chef Needs a Farmer, Every Farmer Needs a Chef. To promote these home-grown ideas there is a special barbecue contest that sees local chefs, DJs, and firefighters going head to head during a cook-off judged by Shaun O'Neale, MasterChef winner of season 7.

Why would a U.S. championship-winning chef busy riding the wave of his MasterChef fame take time out to come to Prince George?

Because Sylvia Layzell, president of the BCNE, asked him to.

Layzell was in New Orleans on holidays, went to eat dinner at Aaron Sanchez's restaurant and found herself seated at a table next to O'Neale's, who was there for a trade show.

Layzell said hi, continued the conversation, got her photo taken with O'Neale and then took the leap.

"I asked him if he'd come up here and he said sure," Layzell said. "It was a chance meeting that worked out really well for us. There will be three days of barbecue competitions and Shaun will be doing a couple of barbecue demonstrations."

As far as entertainment on the schedule, guests at the fair can take in local entertainment, including Limelight Quest's finale, where a singer will be crowned the winner of the annual competition, square dancing demonstrations, juggling, magic shows, heavy horse pulls and agility dogs. Guests at the fair can explore Heritage Lane, the 4H barns, home arts and horticulture displays, a quilt show, and something new and rather unusual on the roster this year.

"We've got noodle jousting out on our rodeo grounds," said Aimee Alsplaugh, general manager of the BCNE. "So people will be dressing up in medieval costumes and jousting with pool noodles for entertainment."

And they are on horseback.

"I don't think it's well known but it's a thing," Alsplaugh laughed.

"There's a whole set of rules and a couple of our directors are organizing it," Layzell said. "They thought it would be cool."

To make the fair more accessible gate admissions are more affordable, with children 11 and under free and there's no charge for parking.

For a full schedule of events visit www.bcne.ca.

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