Fair celebrates 4-H birthday

From mutton busting to the Shooting Star midway - the 69th annual Rock Creek Fair was a weekend to remember.

Jason Gould drives his team in the heavy horse competition.

Jason Gould drives his team in the heavy horse competition.

The 69th annual Rock Creek and Boundary Fall Fair was special because it was also the 100th birthday celebration of 4-H in British Columbia.

Tim Hus came on Saturday night with his Canadian Cowboy Concert and Charlotte Diamond was there with Four Hugs a Day on Sunday. There were horse rides for the kids by Sunshine Riding, mutton busting and children’s farm games. And of course there were the 17th annual lawnmower races, this year expanded to include a remote control car race too. Boundary Minor Hockey stepped up to run bingo.

The Marron Valley Drill Team was there, eight riders from 12 to 16 years old providing a great high-speed show in the arena. According to mother Linda Brooks, the Rock Creek Fair is considered the highlight of their season.

At the opening ceremony, all the local 4-H members and their leaders gathered in front of the dais to recite the 4-H pledge and lead the singing of Oh Canada.

Guests welcoming the Saturday crowd were MLA Linda Larson, RDKB Area E Director Bill Baird, Art Harfman (who was recently made a 4-H life member) and fair association president Lincoln Blaine

Blaine called this the biggest and best little fair in B.C. “My family has been involved with this organization since it’s inception after the Second World War,” Blaine said. “I have personally only missed one event and that was in 1945 because I wasn’t born yet.”

“The success of this fair for the past 69 years is largely due to the tremendous foresight and dedication of our forefathers. These grounds for example have been leased from the government since the 1950s and we just renewed for another 30 years,” Blaine said.

Art Harfman officially opened the 2014 fair with a speech that focused on the centennial of 4-H in B.C. and the role of 4-H in the Boundary since 1946.

“4-H continues to teach the young people to successfully meet the challenges, not only of their futures, but also the futures of their community and their country,” said Harfman.

“The Rock Creek fair has been the proud sponsor of the 4-H clubs in the Boundary since Fraser Carmichael, district agrologist from Grand Forks, organized the 4-H movement in the Boundary area in 1946.” Harfman, who showed his first steer at the Rock Creek fair in 1950, said that in the early years the final achievement of the project year for local 4-H clubs was held at the Southern Interior Stockyards in OK Falls. In 1952, Val Haynes, a pioneer rancher of the Oliver area, approached Boundary 4-H leaders Fraser Carmichael, Neil Smith and Jack Harfman with a proposal. He told them they needed to take the 4-H members of the Boundary to the Provincial Winter Fair (PWF) in Kamloops for some real competition in the show ring and fantastic learning experiences. Haynes offered them $10 for every steer they took to Kamloops to go towards the freight.

That was the start of the Boundary clubs attending the provincial fair and in 1952, 12 steers went to Kamloops and they came home with one 5th place ribbon.

That was soon to change though. In the next six years the Boundary club had the top five steers in the show and brought home the champion and reserve champion ribbon as well as many other trophies.

“Once the Boundary club had its second year of PWF behind them, they became a powerful group of youngsters among all the competitors and have been every since,” Harfman explained. Indeed Boundary 4-H Beef club members won the trip to the Toronto Royal Winter Fair four years running beginning in 1955.

4-H in the boundary has expanded today. There is the Borderline 4-H Sheep Club and the Boundary C 4-H Club now runs sewing, horse and photography project clubs too. “I believe our children are learning values that will last a lifetime and can be learned in no other way,” he said, adding that 4-H and farming nurtures the close family ties that make life rich in ways that money cannot buy.