Maple Ridge’s Country Fest a ‘blast’

More 4-H clubs showed up this year and on Saturday the fair ran out of food

Country Fest celebrated 111th year in Maple Ridge on weekend.

Country Fest celebrated 111th year in Maple Ridge on weekend.

So many people attended Country Fest on the weekend that the annual agricultural fair ran out of food.

Lorraine Bates, general manager of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Agricultural Association, estimated that more than 14,000 people took in the 111th annual festival at the Albion Fairgrounds on Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, she added, Kiwanis volunteers ran out of food and had to run and buy more.

“They’ve been here for a few years and they would have come with the same supplies and they ran out of food on the Saturday,” Bates added.

As well, the executive director of the B.C. Association of Fairs and Exhibitions told Bates that Country Fest was too large of an event to evaluate in one day.

“That’s a huge compliment,” she said.

Bates wish organizers had more time to set up the event. “When the fair opened, we were still putting stuff away. There was a group of us doing the backyard garden with a flood light on at Friday night at 2 o’clock in the morning.”

The fair also saw an increase in the number of 4-H clubs participating this year, with those coming from Vancouver Island and as far away as Armstrong.

That is partly due to extra prizes being handed out at certain events, along with free admission and camping, Bates said.

Organizers of the 4-H beef competition gave away an extra $6,500 in prizes in what is called a buckle bonanza and the dairy section gave away an extra $2,000 in prizes and gifts.

The fair also put on a special events like square dancing and a water fight for 4-H participants.

The water fight has been growing in popularity each year at Country Fest and this year it was finally made an official event.

“We put it in the schedule that the 4-H area is going to be closed to the public at 4:30 and if people went in there it was at their own risk,” said Bates.

“And if there is any kid there who didn’t get the right colour of ribbon, they are not going to remember that. But, they are going to remember the water fight. They had a blast.”

Next year Bates would like to build upon the Black Box Culinary Competition, which made its debut at Country Fest this year and involved chef Trevor Randle, an instructor at Maple Ridge secondary and students from his culinary arts program.

Already she can see plenty of interest from other schools and fairs.

“I would like to see the competition kicked up a notch,” said Bates. “I would like to see them have an internal competition, then the winner comes here so you would have one representative from each school.”