Clara Knight has been attending the Saanich Fair since 1947, unless you count the years she attended in utero.
The lifelong Central Saanich resident said her farmer parents showed the cattle of General Pearkes’ sister at the fair.
“I don’t remember the very early years, but at about six, seven, eight [years old], it became a highlight of the year,” she said, remembering how the event brought her family and friends together, as well as “city folk” who originally arrived by boat or train.
Knight, president of the North and South Saanich Agricultural Society that puts on the fair, started competing in the junior departments at the early age of seven.
“I have just grown up in the fair world,” she said, adding that “learning to do by doing” aided her development.
Even after a Holstein bull broke both of her feet as a teenager, the former Canadian Dairy Princess stayed involved in the fair, comparing, competing and celebrating agricultural achievements.
“I really can’t complain because with new technology I’ve got my feet back,” she said, brandishing supportive boots and bee-themed socks to emphasize, while her feet have been surgically rebuilt, she still has to watch how much she walks. “Let’s face it, you’ve just got to keep on going.”
One of Knight’s board members purchased the bee socks in light of the 2019 fair theme: “Bee Happy at the Fair.”
“I love it because ‘be happy’ is the most important thing to me, working together and being, all, happy,” Knight said.
Every year since 1965, the fair features one of its departments. This year, with news about declining bee populations, the honey department will be featured. There will be displays about bees, pollination, honey and flowers that facilitate repopulation, and more.
Knight and her “worker bees” have been busy putting it all together throughout the year. The society manager and small administration staff put together the catalogue, which this year features 27 departments that range from livestock to plants to baking and, of course, honey. Department heads work with committees and countless volunteers, and the board deals with things like hydro bills and organizing rentals to offset the cost of the “cream of the crop” facilities.
“I think the spirit of the fair, the togetherness, is what really brings people back,” Knight said.
As always, all departments will have competitions, for which the entry deadline is Aug. 14.
Knight said this year they are expecting over 2,000 entries, just in the junior departments.
The 151st annual fair will run from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2.