Feature Story                                                                                                Tuesday, August 12, 2014


It Happened at the Fair

Rodeo, concert highlight 142nd Chilliwack agriculture event

Staff/Voice photos


Trooper lead singer and enduring front man Ramon McGuire proved he can still belt out the hits at the Chilliwack Fair last Friday. Below rodeo clown Mark Thompson talks about his 25 years at the event.


verybody gets something different from the Chilliwack Fair. Local 4-H Clubs got ribbons plus a chance to show off livestock and animal husbandry skills. Cowboys got rodeo. Music lovers got a concert. On Saturday, movie lovers got "Grease" on the big screen.

In one the huge barns, foodies got cooking lessons from local restaurateur Chef Dez and roller derby fans got to participate in the fastest growing sport in BC dominated by women. The BC Dairy Association's Moo Crew were there with milking demonstrations for those interested.

Outside, car collectors got an antique truck and tractor show at Atchelitz Museum. Families got rides on the Rotary Train that whistled its way around the grounds.


In the rodeo ring, Mark Thompson clowns around entertaining the crowds. He's been in the Chilliwack Rodeo for 25 years, and has a few broken bones to prove it.

Thompson holds up an abbreviated digit.

"I lost the end of my finger roping a calf," he told the Voice during a break.

Back in his mustang days, Thompson says he provided some of the background vocals in a 1969 song called "The Laughing Song".

Now that he's into his 65th year, he concentrates mostly on being a rodeo clown and helping out around the chuck wagon such as with the rodeo feast.

"We have 100 pounds of ribs, 10 salmon, plus something I've been making for years called "cowboy beans, and Joiners supplies the corn," he says. "You should come."

Today, Thompson's granddaughter is watching from the stands.

"She's four and she's the biggest rodeo fan in Chilliwack," says Thompson who backs away and falls flat on his back in the rodeo ring.

The announcer notices his antics. Thompson responds by pretending to pick up a horse dropping and eat it. The crowd roars.

A tractor came into the ring hauling a flat deck with Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz, Councillor Sue Attrill, Chilliwack MLA John Martin, Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Mark Strahl and fair dignitaries on it. Introductions were handled by Desmond Devnich.

"I couldn't imagine a better setting for a fair and I hope everyone is enjoying their evening," said Chilliwack Fair President Cathy Oss.

Oss thanked community partners, the three levels of government and volunteers for their hard work from parking cars to cleaning barns.

A young lady sings the American national anthem Friday as a rider circles with the US flag.

"The fair would not be possible without them," she said.

Gaetz acknowledged the Agriculture Society and the 4-H Clubs for their work and asked the crowd for a show of appreciation.

"I've been at the fair for as long as I can remember and one of those memories was when I was 14-years-old at the fair," she said. "It's a great place to find someone to fall in love with, so go out and enjoy the fair and enjoy the people you have around you."

"Chilliwack is just a great place to live, work and raise a family," said Martin. "It's a great honour to bring greetings here from the provincial government."

Strahl said the the federal government chipped in $14,000 to help with fair costs.

"Agriculture is the backbone of the community and this is a great opportunity to celebrate everything that makes agriculture such a key thing of everything we do here in Chilliwack," said Strahl.

The rodeo was marred by an unfortunate incident where young cowgirl, Katie Holland from Barriere BC, wasn't able to properly dismount, became entangled in a strap and got battered by the bull. She laid in the ring for quite a few minutes until she was taken to Chilliwack General Hospital by paramedics. There is no word on her condition.

This year, Vancouver band Trooper headlined the fair stage, bringing out a large contingency of Chilliwack's 70s children. By showtime, a couple of thousand people packed the area around the stage ready to the band take them back through time with some of their more popular tunes from that era.

Trooper were backed up by popular local country band Mae 'n Me who got the crowd warmed up with some original boot-stompin songs from their latest CD "Off the Rails". Watch for them at Hope Brigade Days September 5. After that they're off to play Tootsie's Orchid Lounge in Nashville, TN.

Overall, for the ten bucks it cost to get in to the fair, and the handful of change to the Fraser Valley dragon boaters to park the car, it's safe to say that people got their money's worth.

See more photos below.

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