TNRD finds middle ground in winter fair dispute

4-H youth participating in the North Thompson Fall Fair.

4-H youth participating in the North Thompson Fall Fair.

From today’s (Thursday, July 14, 2016)

NOTE: There are some errors in this story. Carole Gillis is a member of the Provincial Winter Fair Committee of the KXA board, not a KXA director. David Arduini is a KXA director and chair of the winter fair committee of the KXA. And the KXA is not $67,000 in debt; rather, the winter fair faces a budget shortfall of up to $67,000, which it hopes to make up with grants and sponsorships.


TNRD directors stepped briefly Thursday into the middle of a simmering dispute over who should have the right to hold the Provincial Winter Fair.

The solution, as it turned out, was quite simple — a line right down the middle.

A delegation of Kamloops Exhibition Association directors requested TNRD funding for 4-H winter fair participants, a request the regional district has happily honoured for the past half-dozen years.

This year is different, though.

An identical request was made to the regional district last month received from another organization. A splinter group, Barriere-based Provincial Winter Fair Society, is organizing a rival event in the North Thompson.

After grappling with the issue in mid-June, the regional board opted for what they thought was a prudent and neutral decision, granting $5,000 to a group holding the Provincial Winter Fair in the North Thompson.

What they hadn’t foreseen was a change of locations. The Kamloops groups applied for a court injunction to force the Barriere group to drop the Provincial Winter Fair name, but the application was denied last week in B.C. Supreme Court, leaving the matter unresolved.

KXA directors Dave Arduini and Carole Gillis had hoped to have matters clarified before they appeared before TNRD board with their request, but that’s not how it turned out.

Complicating their situation, the KXA is $67,000 in debt while more than two-thirds of potential fair participants have signed up for the Barriere event.

“As you know, we’ve been involved in litigation,” Gillis said. “But we are going ahead with the exhibition in Kamloops.”

After first considering the Tournament Capital Ranch (TCR) in Rayleigh, they opted instead for the Circle Creek Equestrian Centre in Knutsford, just outside city boundaries. The Knutsford location can support all fair activities whereas the TCR lacks indoor facilities.

Gillis and Arduini didn’t specify how much of a 4-H grant they’d like, which left the TNRD board in a bit of a quandary.

“We don’t want to be in the middle, but we need to support the kids,” said Merritt Mayor Neil Menard, who described the name dispute as “bullshit.”

“This has presented the board with a very challenging situation,” added Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta. “I don’t know if it’s beneficial for the kids of the region to be impacted by a dispute over names or anything else.”

Mel Rothenburger, Area P director, took exception to Menard’s description.

“I think we have a lot of well meaning, dedicated, hardworking adults trying to do the best they can,” Rothenburger said.

For a few moments, it seemed as though the divide would put TNRD area directors at loggerheads with city directors — each faction favouring a different group — but a motion from Mayor Peter Milobar steered the matter to swift resolution.

“It’s a tough one,” he concurred.

Milobar suggested granting an equal amount to both groups, a motion that was unanimously accepted.

The Provincial Winter Fair in Barriere takes place Sept. 26, the same weekend as the Provincial Winter Fair in Kamloops.


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