End of Agrifair saloon poses financial issues

Despite running a deficit, the 2011 Abbotsford Agrifair was called “one of our best fairs ever,”

  • Nov. 30, 2011 12:00 p.m.

Despite running a deficit, the 2011 Abbotsford Agrifair was called “one of our best fairs ever,” by outgoing president Harry deJong at the recent annual general meeting.

Although he will continue as past president, deJong stepped down from the board of directors after serving 16 years, including the last five as president. The new board elected Ernie Silveri, who has previously served as both Agrifair president and vice-president, to replace deJong.

Planning for the 2011 fair began with the difficult decision to close the Fat Pig Saloon.

“After extensive consultations with local interest groups, we decided to concentrate on making the 2011 Abbotsford Agrifair and Mighty Fraser Rodeo a safer, healthier and more inclusive fair,” deJong said.

While the saloon’s closure cost Agrifair over $100,000 in lost revenue, it had the desired effect. Guest response was overwhelmingly positive and attendance increased slightly over 2010. Offsetting the reduced revenues were a slight increase in sponsorship, strong support from the City of Abbotsford and a reduction in overall expenses. As a result, the fair was able to close the year with a loss of about $20,000.

In a 10-way race for the eight board positions, members re-elected Susan Krochter, Doug McNally, Allan Philps, Bob Street and Lorne Webster and elected Asger Hansen, Anthony Hirschman and Caryn Zimmerman as new members of the board of directors. Directors then elected a new executive, consisting of Silveri as president, Philps as vice-president, Kim Hissink as secretary and Susan Krochter as treasurer.

“Although finances continue to be a challenge, we are committed to working with the City of Abbotsford and our other local partners on innovative ways to deliver the quality fair and rodeo our community has come to expect,” said Silveri.

n DeJong, has been named the BC Association of Agricultural Fairs and Exhibitions Volunteer of the Year.

The award caps a lifetime of service to his community, city and province. It began almost 50 years ago when he joined the Matsqui parks and recreation committee and includes several terms as a Matsqui alderman and mayor, Abbotsford MLA, and a brief term as Minister of Agriculture.

DeJong’s award was one of several Agrifair received at the recent BCAAFE Convention. Agrifair’s introduction of its new mascot, Penny the Pig, was recognized as the Best Public Relations Event of the Year, the Fraser Valley Antique Farm Machinery Association’s interactive displays received an honourable mention in Agricultural Education and Glenn Fulton of the Abbotsford Photo Arts Club earned third place in the Members Choice Award.