Labour Day weekend: Saanich Fair, CRD Parks, Classic Boat Fest and more

Saanich Fair back for 151st year

Enjoy the last days of summer over the Labour Day long weekend with a three-day fling filled with food, exhibits, midway rides and lots of animals at the Saanich Fair, Saturday to Monday at the Saanich Fairgrounds.

This is the 151st anniversary of the annual event, which celebrates the rich agricultural heritage of Central Saanich. Organized by the North and South Saanich Agricultural Society, it’s billed as the oldest continuous agricultural fair west of the Great Lakes.

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The fair got its start in 1868, when 10 local farmers got together to show off their accomplishments, on and off the field, in the spirit of friendly competition.

Originally held on the original 10 farmers’ fields, it is now located on the Saanich Fairgrounds, a collection of buildings on 17.5 hectares of land. Apart from hosting the annual fall fair, the grounds are used by dozens of community organizations the rest of the year.

More than 45,000 people are expected to visit the fair over three days, rubbing shoulders with descendants of some of the original farmers who still work the land.

The fair is well-known for hosting an impressive collection farm animals, from alpacas to pigs and everything in between.

There will be livestock competitions daily, with judging on the best animal in each category, along with live demonstrations of dog agility, and alpaca, llama and sheep shearing.

Young members of 4-H clubs — the name stands for head, heart, health and hands — will also be on hand with their charges, which include chickens, donkeys, rabbits and ducks.

This year’s theme is Bee Happy at the Fair, so expect to see apiaries and beekeepers providing information about honey production.

The spirit of friendly competition between neighbours and friends continues with judging of best jams and jellies, vegetables, fruit, knitting, sewing, livestock art, photography or treasured relics from the past.

Other attractions include about 28 midway rides and more than 60 vendors and concessions.

There are two concerts included with gate admission, with headliners Prism performing at 8 p.m. Saturday and April Wine playing to the crowds, 8:30 p.m. Sunday.

Entertainment also includes Highland dancing, Allegro Performing Arts and Mufaro Marimba.

Don’t forget to enter some of the competitions, such as pie-eating, wagon-wheel eating or the cupcake eating events.

Admission is $13 for adults on Saturday and Sunday, $12 on Monday; $8 for seniors and youth on Saturday and Sunday, $7 on Monday. It’s free for children six and under.

The fair is open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday at the Saanich Fairground, 1528 Stelly’s Cross Rd., Saanichton. Free parking. No dogs allowed. For more information, go to saanichfair.ca.

Get outside on kids’ last weekend of summer break

As school beckons, take the family for one last weekend discovering the natural and cultural history of the region at three programs offered by CRD Parks.

• See crabs and their cousins, up close and personal, at Crab-tastic!, a drop-in event at Island View Beach Regional Park in Central Saanich today.

At this all-ages event, you will meet red, green, purple, hairy and hermit crabs in their bustling marine habitat. There will be an aquarium, games and lots of opportunities to explore the beach with buckets and dip nets.

Be prepared to get your feet wet (bring sandals or beach shoes).

The drop-in event runs 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Island View Beach Regional Park. Look for the blue tent on the beach off Homathko Road.

• On Friday, join a CRD Regional Parks naturalist for a guided walk at the Sandy Shore Explore, at Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park in Metchosin.

This all-ages event takes participants for an intertidal exploration to discover the strange and wonderful creatures that appear between the tides.

Remember to bring sandals or beach shoes, as you will likely get your feet wet.

The walk runs 10 to 11:30 a.m. Friday at Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park, Metchosin. Meet at the Witty’s Beach kiosk at the end of the Beach Trail.

• The last summer nature program this year is The Beach Rocks!, an all-ages guided walk Saturday at Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park in Metchosin.

The tide is out, so this is an opportunity to get a glimpse of the creatures that live beneath the rocks — with guidance from a CRD Regional Parks naturalist.

Sandals or beach shoes are recommended.

The program runs 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park in Metchosin. Meet at the Witty’s Beach kiosk at the end of the Beach Trail.

All the events are free to join. Try to arrive 10 minutes before the start of the program. For more information, go to crd.bc.ca/parks.

History afloat at museum’s Classic Boat Festival

Float back to a bygone era when wooden boats plied the waters at the 42nd annual Classic Boat Festival, the flagship event of the Maritime Museum of British Columbia, Friday to Sunday in the Inner Harbour.

More than 100 vintage sail and power boats — the oldest boat at last year’s event first dipped her planks into the water in 1899 — will be in Victoria to celebrate the last days of summer at one of the region’s most anticipated maritime events of the year.

Up to 10,000 visitors are expected to walk along the open docks, admiring the floating maritime history and meeting some of the owners, hailing from the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Expect to see classic boats of all sizes and shapes, from gaff rigged schooners to rowboats and workboats.

A full list of the registered vessels, arranged alphabetically, can be found on the Maritime Museum of British Columbia website.

Boats start arriving today, with sailors finding a welcome kiosk located on top of the docks, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There will also be marine-related exhibitions — this year’s theme features stories of nautical mishaps and misadventures — as well as family-friendly programs.

The festival officially kicks off at noon on Friday with a cannon salute announcing the arrival of the honorary commodore on board the Maritime Museum of British Columbia salute vessel, the Midnight Sun, in the Inner Harbour.

On Sunday, there will be a sailpast and salute to the honorary commodore, followed by a classic sail race (weather permitting) in the afternoon.

Sunday’s sailpast and sailing races run 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and can be seen along Dallas Road between the Ogden Point breakwater and Clover Point.

Admission is by donation to view the docked vessels. The docks are open to the public from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, in the Inner Harbour and at Ship Point, off Government Street in front of the Fairmont Empress.

For details, go to mmbc.bc.ca/classicboatfestival.

Enjoy music and the arts in the great outdoors

Music is in the air at three events this weekend.

• Listen to poets and musicians perform along an urban creek at the second of three Creekside Concerts, Thursday on the western edge of Bowker Creek in Browning Park in Saanich.

The concert series, hosted by Friends of Bowker Creek Society and Tune Your Ride, is meant to celebrate Bowker Creek and its watershed and to increase public awareness of this oft-forgotten feature of the landscape.

“We offer these events to celebrate living in an urban watershed,” said Soren Henrich, chair of the Friends of Bowker Creek Society. “We want to know what people think about daylighting the creek and creating a multi-use trail connected to the surrounding communities.”

Spoken word artist Ann-Bernice Thomas and cello duo Hale and Hearty will perform at the event.

Hop on their bicycle and bring along some friends and a picnic. Remember to bring a reusable cup for a free bike-powered smoothie.

The event is free to attend. It runs 6 to 8 p.m. today at the western edge of Bowker Creek in Browning Park in Saanich (west of Shelbourne Street between McRae and Knight avenues). For more information, go to creeksideconcerts.ca.

• Join an eclectic art party that celebrates the Earth, imagination, authenticity and plain ol’ island wackiness at the Cultivate Festival, held at the Gabriola Commons on Gabriola Island, Friday to Sunday.

This is the second year of the end-of-summer family-friendly celebration of music, theatre, art and community. It is hosted by the Cultivate Team at the Gabriola Arts Council.

Music headliners include several folk legends: Gabriola’s own Hall-of-Famer Gary Fjellgard, folk music royalty Shari Ulrich and Lester Quitsau.

One-day passes are $50, two days for $75. Individual theatre passes are $28 each. A five-show theatre pass is $120. A combined music and theatre pass is $160. Admission is free for children 16 and under.

The event runs 4 to 8:15 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Sunday at the Gabriola Commons, 675 North Rd., Gabriola Island. For more information, go to cultivate.artsgabriola.ca.

• Take a musical oceanside hike through Galiano Island’s ancient cedars at the Musical Walkalong for Learning, a fundraiser for inner-city schoolchildren and youth who have no budget for hands-on nature learning, Saturday at the Millard Learning Centre, Galiano Island.

More than a dozen musicians will play cello, harp, violin, standup bass, percussion and more as you explore trails and forest gardens.

Proceeds from the event will help school kids from Surrey, Langley, the Lower Mainland, Greater Victoria and all over the Gulf Islands to attend nature-based learning programs at the Galiano Conservancy.

This is the seventh year of the event, the only source for thousands of dollars in bursaries that have brought more than 37,000 schoolchildren and youth to the island.

Local food will be available for purchase after the hike, plus local beer, cider and wines. A post-walk celebration starts at 4 p.m., with music, a silent auction and family and children’s activities, as well as complimentary hand-cranked homemade ice cream.

Registration, by donation, starts at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Millard Learning Centre, 10825 Porlier Pass Dr. Galiano Island. There will be a free bus shuttle to and from the ferry terminal, at the island’s south end.

For more information, go to galianoconservancy.ca/walkalong.

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