A history of the Coombs Fair, entitled Our First Century: 1913-2013, has been published as part of the fair's 100th anniversary celebration this year.
The 24-page souvenir program traces the origins of the fair from its beginnings in Hilliers on Sept. 13, 1913 through the decades up to the present-day event in Coombs. The booklet tells the story with text, new and old photos and reproductions of historic documents.
The first fair was held beside the tracks at Hilliers Crossing near where Morning Glory
School is located today. It was started by settlers who had moved to the area in 1911 following the construction of the railway from Parksville to Port Alberni.
The B.C. government provided tents and displays of crops, fruit and produce from its experimental farm in Saanich. Residents were also encouraged to exhibit what they had grown.
In an interview published in the 1960s, pioneer Caroline Moore recalled winning enough prize money at the first fair to finance a trip on the train to Victoria. The following year she and her husband George Moore were among the two dozen residents who became the founding members of the Cameron, Nanoose & Newcastle Agricultural Association.
The family connection to the fair continues 100 years later. Her grand-daughter Joyce Westra and great grand-daughter Caroline Westra are part of the organizing society.
The fair has continued all these years thanks to the untiring efforts of numerous other longtime families, many of whom are recognized in the booklet.
In 1924 the Hilliers fair moved to Coombs where it amalgamated with two others to become one large district-wide fair. It has operated every year except for a three-year gap during World War II.
Copies of the souvenir program can be purchased for $5 at the Coombs General Store, the Coombs Museum, Parksville Museum or through the fairgrounds office at 250-248-4478.
© Copyright 2013