Community

Country Fest to draw bigger crowds

Brianna Arsenault, 13, shows off her three-month-old lamb Gilbert, who will be part of the Fun ‘Til You’re Done Farm at this year’s Country Fest on the weekend. Below, Lorraine Bates with her backyard garden. - Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS
Brianna Arsenault, 13, shows off her three-month-old lamb Gilbert, who will be part of the Fun ‘Til You’re Done Farm at this year’s Country Fest on the weekend. Below, Lorraine Bates with her backyard garden.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS

The name may have changed over the past 113 years, but its popularity just keeps growing.

Now in its 114th year, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Country Fest organizers are expecting a bigger crowd than their typical 15,000 attendees throughout the two-day event.

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Agricultural Association general manager Lorraine Bates says besides celebrating agriculture, the 2014 event recognizes two centennial milestones – Pitt Meadows and the 4-H Club. As a result, many Pitt Meadows residents and 4-H current and past members, as well as their families from across B.C. and parts of Alberta are expected to attend.

When festival planning for this year started months ago, Bates says the expectation was the 4-H crowd would reach 500 registrations.

“We ended up with 1,300,” she says.

Bates maintains her group is ready for the 4-Hers, with history exhibits, 1,300 black velvet cupcakes topped off with the 4-H emblem, an exclusive 4-H activity list and barns primed for 106 beef and 97 dairy cattle.

“Our barns are absolutely packed. We could not fit another animal in.”

Running July 26 and 27 at the Albion fairgrounds, the free annual event will incorporate favorites from the past, such as Canadian Heritage Stage performers, tribute bands playing the hits of Fleetwood Mac and Heart, sheep dog, farrier and shearing demonstrations as well as the Country Corner Vintage Market.

Set up in the Golden Ears Curling Club, Bates says she recalls the vintage market attracting some of the fair’s biggest line-ups which consists of shoppers looking for “vintage one-of-a-kind treasures.”

The Ridge Meadows Got Talent 2014 performers will be on the main stage July 27. As in years past, participants will be competing for cash prizes and grouped into a youth age group, 10-year-olds to 18-year-olds and adults, anyone 19 and older.

Backyard Farming is back again. Bates says the “always popular” attraction will feature experts on mushrooms, backyard chickens, bee keeping, home brewing and organic gardening who can answer any and all questions from the public.

New this year are attractions like the preschooler interactive craft tent “How Does Your Garden Grow?” and lawnmower racing, courtesy of the Fraser Valley Lawn Mower Racing Association.

To be held in the horse ring and Saturday only at 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., the Fraser Valley lawnmower racers, approximately 18 in total, will be driving modified versions of ride-on mowers.

Their mowers still have the original engines but the blades are removed for safety reasons. Their riders must adhere to using engines that range in power from 12 to 18 horsepower and the association only recognizes engines made by Briggs and Stratton, Tecumseh, Robin, Wisconsin, Kohler, Kawasaki and Honda.

Bates, who has been living on the fairgrounds in a trailer for the past two weeks, laughs when asked about her favourite thing about the fair.

“I never get to see it.”

Country Fest runs 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Albion Fairground. Parking is $2.

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