A COVID-style two week version of Country Fest, from July 17-29, is still in the works. (The News files)

A COVID-style two week version of Country Fest, from July 17-29, is still in the works. (The News files)

Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Country Fest still welcoming 4-H clubs from across B.C.

Organizers hope provincial travel restrictions are lifted on time

The manager of one of the biggest country fairs in the Lower Mainland is hoping travel restrictions are eventually lifted to allow 4-H clubs from across the province to participate.

Loraine Bates and her team at Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Country Fest are expecting more than 30 clubs and 400 animals at this year’s two week event. But, there will be no attendance by the general public.

However, current travel restrictions for non-essential travel between health regions in the province have been extended until June 15.

“We’re going to be going ahead until somebody tells me we’re not,” said Bates.

Typically the fair would be held July 24th and 25th this year. But a two week event would allow for a socially distanced fair for the more than 400 4-H club members planning to attend.

Three different time slots have been created for the week of July 17-23 to accommodate the 4-H participants, so they can be spaced out throughout the site and the barns.

“They had nothing last year,” said Bates. And, she added, the Pacific National Exhibition is cancelled this year.

“I was determined that they were going to have something more than a book project to do.”

Clubs are planning to come in from Vancouver Island – the furthest north being Williams Lake – the Okanagan, and from throughout the Fraser Valley.

On the weekend of the fair, there will be entertainment on the main stage.

READ MORE: 4-H clubs gearing up for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Country Fest

Then the second week will be the home arts competitions.

“That is a heritage competition that I just can’t let die,” said Bates, adding that once you let a year go by without having a competition, then you’ve lost it.

READ MORE: Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Country Fest goes online for 2020

The weekend entertainment will be live streamed and all the 4-H shows will be taped and played between the bands, along with videos of other agricultural events like sheep shearing and sheep dogs.

If travel restrictions are not lifted in time for the fair, Bates is still willing to put it on for the Fraser Valley 4-H clubs, because they are really looking forward to it, she said.

“You can’t just put a light switch on and you’ve got a special event organized. It takes a long time,” added Bates, noting how heartbreaking it would be to have to pull the plug.

“I’m just going ahead with a positive attitude and if it gets cancelled at the last minute, it does.”

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