Get the family together for the 106th Cobble Hill Fair at the historic fairgrounds this Saturday.
This hallmark event, begun in 1909, showcases all that is great about living in the South Cowichan district.
Cobble Hill and the surrounding area was founded on the agricultural industry and the area’s rural nature and relaxed lifestyle.
Every fair is alive with activity and entertainment for the whole family, celebrating the past while cultivating the future.
This year, the Lieut. Gov. Judith Guichon will attend the fair, participate in the parade, officially open the event and then dedicate a new barn.
Guichon is an appropriate guest. Before she became lieutenat governor of B.C.,Guichon owned and operated a ranch in the Nicola Valley, where the family has ranched since 1878. She has also studied holistic management, which promotes sustainable management of livestock: an idea she introduced to B.C. ranchers.
Guichon has also served her community on a number of fronts, as well as providing leadership to her area’s 4-H club.
“One really big thing at this year’s fair is that at 11 a.m., after opening the fair, the lieutenant governor will be dedicating a new barn that’s been donated to the Farmers Institute by a very generous Vancouver Island family,” fair spokeperson Gerry Giles said. “That is really something spectacular and we really think that will set the tone for the whole day.”
Giles, among many others, is excited to meet Guichon.
“I’ve never personally met her so I’m really looking forward to it,” she said. “I’ve heard so many terrific things about her and the way she has of meeting and greeting people. It’ll be a great experience, I know.”
The new barn Guichon will be dedicating is a special project.
“We were very fortunate in that George Baird knew a person and we were in the right place at the right time. We wrote out a proposal for a new barn. The money was part of a legacy to remember a person on Vancouver Island and we submitted that proposal and we were successful. It’s now completely finished. It’s a huge project. The new barn is 100 feet by 32 feet with an overhang that allows us to tie up cattle outside of the barn; it also has a cement floor. It’s going to be a really welcome addition, a big venue that is able to be rented out for a variety of different things..”
The facility will really add to the year-round usefulness of the fairgrounds, Giles said.
“Evergreen Independent School is looking at renting that facility for their gymnasium. We’ve had a number of inquiries, too. And that’s where we held this past weekend’s very successful Cops for Cancer event.”
Cobble Hill Fair president Dave Bilkoski is expecting amazing things at this year’s Fair.
“We were fortunate to have received a $100,000 Community Works Fund grant to upgrade the infrastructure of our 94-year-old community hall,” he said
Being considered for improvements are: a new hot water on demand system, new furnace, updated electrical system, natural gas installation and a new commercial stove for the kitchen.
“We will finish off by painting the interior of the hall giving it a much needed face lift,” Bilkoski said.
The Cobble Hill Farmers Institute was incorporated on Nov. 3, 1914. The the organization is now approaching its one hundred and first year of operation and it’s been an interesting journey.
“As an organization we are very proud to carry on with the rich legacy the early pioneers left to our community. On behalf of the board of directors, I would like to extend our appreciation to all of our hard working volunteers for their tireless dedication year-round.
“Of course our sponsors are also owed a debt of gratitude for their generosity for without them we could not stage this Fair. 4-H members are tremendous supporters of the Fair as are our local service clubs like South Cowichan Rotary and the Malahat Lions. The Women’s Institute has been an important partner since our inception and we are pleased to work with them on the various events we host throughout the year, he said.
Fair co-chair George Baird spoke for the volunteers, saying, “Our Fair is unique. Although we don’t have the hustle and bustle of a midway, we do provide a variety of quality entertainment for the children who attend the Fair. Since 1909, our Fair has focused on our agricultural roots. At our Fair, you can see the animals, the produce, the baking, the handicrafts and so much more.
“Having been a member of 4-H as a boy, I can attest to the fact there is no group of individuals more committed to our community than those who belong to the Farmers Institute at Cobble Hill and those who work year round to stage our Fair,” he said.
Baird also thanked the members of the Fair committee and “all of the volunteers who help to ensure your day at the Fair is enjoyable.”
The Cobble Hill Fair is indeed a beloved institution for many Cowichan residents: a superb way to bid farewell to summer while celebrating everything we’ve all enjoyed during the past year.
Everything kicks off with a pancake breakfast starting at 7 a.m. and then, at 8:30 a.m. the popular Cobble Hill horse show begins and then it’s time for the parade.
Decorated bicycles and their riders, children’s floats, bands, vintage cars, dignitaries, the Mill Bay Fire Department, South Cowichan RCMP, the Kerry Park Islanders, and local clubs are among those who make this an annual event. Participants gather at 9 a.m. by the horse trailer just south of Cobble Hill’s train station off Empress Avenue.
At 9:30 a.m., the colourful cavalcade, led by Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon, sets off, going around the Cobble Hill fairgrounds, ending up by entering the grounds themselves and escorting the honoured guests to the stage for the official opening of the fair, which takes place at 10 a.m.
The exhibits in the historic Cobble Hill Hall open at 10 a.m., too, while outdoors at 10:30 a.m., it’s time for the miniature horse show.
Once you’re ready for a sit-down break, the women’s institute is holding its annual tea in the hall, starting at 11:30 a.m.
The fun human scarecrow contest is scheduled for noon.
Open to all ages, it offers the brave a chance to win $30 for first place, $20 for second and $10 for third but competitors will have to either dance their best “boneless” dance or show how still they they can stand.
Of course, the fair would not be a Fair without the outdoor exhibits, which continue all day.
There are the hugely popular livestock shows, plus children’s games, appearance by Daisy the Cow and Cooper the Mascot, a blacksmithing demonstration, the hay bale toss, the vintage machinery, historical and educational displays, the 4-H shows, sheepdog display and way more.
On stage, outdoors, behind the hall, there’s plenty of entertainment, too.
Entry to the fairgrounds is $7 for adults and $5 for seniors and juniors (12 to 16 years). Kids under 12 and 4-H members get in free.