“Hunky” Bill Konyk at the PNE Fair in an undated photo.

PNE food legend ‘Hunky’ Bill Konyk dies days before 2019 fair opens

Family-operated Hunky Bill’s business has spanned three generations

Just days before the PNE is set to begin for another summer, fair food legend “Hunky” Bill Konyk has died, according to a PNE statement. He was 88.

“Bill passed away peacefully last night, surrounded by his family,” a media release stated Wednesday morning (Aug. 14).

“It is with incredible sadness that the Pacific National Exhibition acknowledges the passing of the one of one of our longest standing concessionaires and iconic members of our Fair family, Bill Konyk, known across the Canadian fair industry as Hunky Bill.”

The Winnipeg-born Konyk was “a beloved member of the extended PNE family for 52 years, beginning, as the legend has it, when the then Vancouver based radio executive bet a friend $10 that he could get a booth at the PNE to sell his homemade Ukrainian style perogies.

“The story goes that Bill showed up at the PNE administration office and spent an hour and a half convincing the then head of the PNE booth sales department to give him a chance. Konyk got his booth, won his $10 and began a 52-year journey during which time Hunky Bill has become one of the most iconic pitchmen and restaurateurs in Canadian history.”

CLICK HERE to read more Hunky Bill’s history on the company website.

Many years ago, as a freelance sports reporter, Konyk met and interviewed many sports celebrities including Mickey Mantle, Casey Stengel, Bobby Hull, Yogi Berra and Ted Williams. “Casey Stengel called him the Crazy Canuck after watching him consume his favorite beverage – beer,” says a post at hunkybills.com/history.

By 1967, Konyk worked as general manager of the CFUN radio station in Vancouver, at a time when he also imported Ukrainian food from Winnipeg.

The family-operated Hunky Bill’s business has spanned three generations, according to PNE spokesperson Laura Ballance.

The food stand has been a fixture at events across the province, including Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair.

“Bill’s loving wife Kay and three sons Bill Jr., Clayton, and Mark will continue on the tradition of serving the best Ukrainian food in the city.

“Hunky Bill will be incredibly missed by his many friends and family across Canada, including all those in his PNE Fair family.”

• RELATED STORY:

The 2019 PNE Fair: What’s new, what’s not and when to visit

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sidney’s Star Cinema looks to reel in audience with reopening

It’s lights, camera, action — again — for Sidney’s Star Cinema in… Continue reading

Saanich councillors scurry to ban rat poisons on municipal properties

A ‘small but important first step’ to protect local wildlife, councillor says

No swimming or skating at Juan de Fuca rec centre for now

The Q Centre to reopen starting on July 13

Unemployment surpasses historic high in Greater Victoria, tourism hit hard

Hospitality and tourism sectors hurting as pandemic continues

Victoria tattoo shops respond to sex assault allegations against male artists

Carne Tattoo and Painted Lotus Studios respond to allegations

VIDEO: Langford cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Would you get a vaccine for COVID-19 when it is available?

With the number of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketing across much of the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Vancouver Island business ad unintentionally features OK gesture linked to white supremacy

Innocuous ‘OK’ gesture in cleaning franchise advertisement gets flak on social media for ‘supposedly’ promoting white supremacy

Comox Valley RCMP looking for missing woman

Ami Guthrie was last seen in Courtenay in early July

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Most Read