The Lakes District Fall Fair Association (LDFFA) has been hard at work over the past few years improving the Eagle Creek recreation grounds and they’re not finished yet.
Joan McFee, a director of the LDFFA, said over $100,000 was spent on capital projects at the grounds last year and they are attempting to put a further $52,000 into the area next spring. She said the volunteer-run association achieved this mark by raising a substantial amount of money on their own as well as through numerous successful grant applications including over $72,000 from the Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund (NKDF).
“We’re really happy to receive the funds because it’s an improvement not only for the fall fair, but also for the Eagle Creek recreation grounds,” said McFee, noting the area is used for many different events throughout the year other than the fall fair. “It would be beneficial to all user groups.”
McFee said the newest project the association is attempting to complete is major improvements to the parking area. They have already received approval from NKDF for a $23,995 grant towards the upgrade and are waiting to hear if their application to Farm Credit Canada AgriSpirit for funding is approved before moving ahead with the project next spring.
She said the upper area of the parking lot at the fairgrounds is quite rough and if they have a wet year at the fair cars tend to get stuck making the parking area unusable. To fix this problem the group wants to put down gravel.
This work would come on the heels of a large project involving improvements to various areas of the Eagle Creek recreation grounds in 2013. During that year the LDFFA spent $107,588 on the site including around $17,000 of their own money.
This total amount breaks down roughly into over $17,000 from federal funding through the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund, about $48,000 from NKDF, close to $8000 through the Horn Levy Fund that is administered through the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association, around $2000 by Area B and E of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, over $1500 through the Tweedsmuir Cavaliers Saddle Club along with the $17,000 the LDFFA provided through profits realized at their fair vending booths.
One area this money went into is upgrades to the campground site beyond the rodeo grandstands to enlarge the area, gravel the grounds and remove any big rocks to make the campground more accessible to recreational vehicles and livestock trailers. A second improvement involved replacing the panels and gate of the arena where the sheep and cattle are held to make the facility more functional and safer for the animals.
“Another part of those panels and gate’s part of the project [is] there is a new building up there,” said McFee. “Inside that building was where the 4-H events [or] projects were being held and so there was panels or pens put into that building so that the 4-H animals would be safe.”
A fourth improvement to the grounds in 2013 included the installation of three sets of bleachers with side rails and back rails making the area safer for spectators. Another betterment to the grounds was a $10,000 hydro upgrade to accommodate the increased amount of livestock that is brought to the fair.
A water extension to service the larger camping area and the heavy horse barn was also completed and a golf cart was purchased to make it easier for volunteers and people with disabilities to get around the grounds.
“These were all completed for the 2013 fair, so we were very busy last year because all these projects we started in the spring of 2013 and they were finished for our fair [and] just barely finished,” she said. “It was all needed because of the growth of the fair.”
McFee said the LDFFA has been fortunate through the years not only from receiving these grants for capital projects, but also by the support from the business community in Burns Lake. She said this includes $17,500 the Bulkley Valley Credit Union donated to the fair in 2011 to renovate their show rings for pure bred cattle as well as install security gates behind the cattle barn stalls.
“The fair has been growing and we’ve been getting more livestock every year coming from out of the area,” said McFee, noting the fair played host to the Hereford Mark of Excellence Show in 2014. “We’ve just learned that we were asked for 2015 to host the Gold Angus Show. What that means is it will bring more angus cattle into the fair for exhibition and because of that we now have to look further [into grounds improvements]. We need to expand our camping area again, so that these livestock people…can camp closer to their cattle.”