Tuesday February 8, 2011
Agassiz Barn Dance Revival Fundraiser Feb 12
Starship Bingo adds to Agriculture Association's Woes
he Agassiz Agricultural Association's Barn Dance Revival fundraiser is set for this Saturday Feb 12 at the Pavilion 6970 Pioneer Ave. The shindig is in support of the Association who operate and maintain three Agriculture buildings which they want to keep out of the hands of the District of Kent. Singer Stacey McKitrik
In order to two-step around the District, they need money to maintain the buildings and keep it a viable operation so they hold numerous events like the Fall Fair in September.
"This is one of three buildings we own and our buildings are on the District's property, so unless we can keep them up and keep a financial statement going, we're going to lose them to the District of Kent," said event organizer Starrlene Picul of the Livestock Pavilion. who also wears another hat as board director of the Agassiz Agricultural Association.
Picul spoke with the Voice in a telephone interview Monday about the dance and why it's a fundraiser.
The building and fairgrounds themselves are the heartbeat of the Agassiz community and according to Picul, the 107th Fall Fair that takes place in the third week of September is one of the few "oldest fairs" in BC. It's also a way for them to raise badly needed cash.
The problem the Association is having is not unique — they just need money. One of their mainstays has been bingo bucks but because of dwindling players, they can't rely on bingo to pay the bills any longer.
Country star Jaydee Bixby.
"We're lucky to get 30-60 people once a week," she said. And the phenomena isn't exclusive to Agassiz either. Bingo halls across BC are suffering the same fate.
According to Picul, the reason is "Starship Bingo" and she points her finger directly at the provincial government for allowing it to happen.
The effect of enlisting armies of Starship troopers with "bigger and better" cash prizes is wiping small halls off the map and removing that old "community" aspect that towns need more than ever now in order to be sustainable in the future.
"With government making the Casinos at Bingo halls now, these little local bingos are becoming null and void," explained Picul.
The nibbles have turned into larger and larger bites until there's not many left at the old bingo halls but scraps of staunch community hall supporters and friends.
What was once hallowed community turf, the government has tread all over with big muddy boots leaving a turbid trail behind and Picul notes how towns are wholeheartedly embracing the new video bingo technology.
"The Chilliwack bingo hall, they're moving to try and get a casino licence as well as their bingo halls. Abbotsford's done the same thing. They've got more money to play with than we do."
Local bingos support the town for many reasons and also because cash prizes are spent locally.
Picul isn't being an alarmist. She's trying to think Bear Grylls and needs to grab the bull by the horns because they may be in danger of losing the buildings in as few as 2-years.
She says that 90% of the events at the Ag Hall's events are community-related and the groups get low rents much of the time. "In order for us to recoup and keep the buildings up we've got to have fundraisers in to do it."
"We donate our building to Girl Guides, District of Kent, Mother's Day events and Halloween events," she said. "The Fair too and the beer gardens are almost half the income that we need for the year."
Picul explained that they are a non-profit society and they only have two janitors on the payroll and everyone else are volunteers.
"So the barn dance is one of the few times in the year that we can bring money into the financial situation."
The Barn Dance Revival Fundraiser
Is on Saturday Feb 12 from 7pm to 10pm at the Pavilion in Agassiz. music by Jaydee Bixby, Stacey McKitrik and Robert Rowan & Savage West. Tickets are $22.50 in advance at or $25 at the door at the Pavilion, 6970 Pioneer Ave.
For more information about the dance visit their Facebook page here or contact Starlene via e-mail here.
Thanks to the event's main sponsors and hosts Starrlene and the Agassiz Agriculture Association
Agassiz Family Chiropractic Centre, Dr. Darren Paul
Agassiz Liquor Store
Prospera Credit Union
Allegiance 1 Security
A Little Backgrounder on the Fall Fair
The Agassiz Fall Fair and Corn Festival is run by a non-profit association called the Agassiz Agricultural and Horticultural Association.
The first Agassiz Fall Fair was held in 1901.
The Kent Agricultural and Horticultural Association was incorporated on November 16, 1899. The name was officially changed on August 20, 1914 to the Agassiz Agricultural and Horticultural Association.
The annual fall fair and corn festival is always held on the second Saturday after Labour Day.
In 2007 the first Corn Queen was crowned after 58 years of Corn Kings.
The present Agricultural Hall was built in two phases; the kitchen was completed in 1983 and the auditorium in 1987 hundreds of volunteers are needed to put on the Fall Fair and Corn Festival.
The primary function of the association is to protect and advance agriculture, horticulture and fruit growing interests in the District of Kent.
Each year an average of 10,000 people attend the Fall Fair and Corn Festival.
How To Get There
The address of the Agricultural Hall is 6800 Pioneer Avenue, Agassiz, B.C. and the Pavilion is at 6790 Pioneer Avenue, Agassiz, B.C.
From Highway #1 take the Agassiz/Harrison Hot Spring exit (exit 135) and go onto Highway #9. Take the turn-off to Agassiz/Harrison Hot Springs, from the turn-off drive to Cheam Ave and turn left, continue through traffic light to Agassiz Avenue. Turn right onto Agassiz Avenue and follow around the curve and the Fairgrounds are on your left side.
To find out more about the Agassiz Fall Fair visit their website at: www.agassizfallfair.ca call 604-796-3246 or e-mail here.
Photos courtesy of Agassiz Agriculture Association
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