Adam Williams – Kamloops This Week
The legal dispute between the Kamloops Exhibition Association (KXA) and the Provincial Winter Fair Society was front and centre at the Thompson-Nicola Regional District’s board of directors meeting on Thursday, June 16.
Evelyn Pilatzke, president of the Provincial Winter Fair Society, was on hand to request $5,000 in financial assistance for the Provincial Winter Fair, which will be held from Sept. 22 to Sept. 26 at the North Thompson Agriplex in Barriere.
Or will it?
An event by the same name is expected to take place at the Tournament Capital Ranch in Rayleigh, hosted by the KXA. Only one event will go by the name Provincial Winter Fair.
The Provincial Winter Fair Society and the KXA have become embroiled in a legal dispute that will be heard in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops on June 27 and the dispute led to questions Thursday about whether the TNRD should become involved with Pilatzke’s group.
“The worst thing we can do as a board is get involved in something and get into the middle of it when it’s in front of the courts,” Merritt Mayor Neil Menard said.
In May, the KXA, filed a lawsuit against the Provincial Winter Fair Society and seven people — including Pilatzke — alleging the Provincial Winter Fair name, logo, forms and advertising materials are being inappropriately used by the society.
The society, meanwhile, has countersued, claiming the KXA never had a formal role in any decision making capacity for the event and only provided facilities and assisted with funding.
The dispute has led to questions about the future of the winter fair and where it will be held. The KXA is seeking an injunction, preventing the society from hosting what it is calling the 78th annual event, contacting prior funders and participants, using its “traditional week” and hosting a fair that involves “beef, cows, horses or sheep.”
“It strikes me, and correct me if I’m wrong, that if the court were to grant the KXA that injunction, that would pretty well put your organization out of business,” TNRD director Ken Gillis, who spoke against granting the funding, asked Pilatzke.
Pilatzke agreed that might be the case, but maintained she and her group will still be hosting a 4-H-related fair that would include all the things normally involved in such an exhibition.
“As far as I’m aware, no judgment has been brought down against us,” she said.
The TNRD board debated a number of options, including delaying granting the money until after the case has been heard by the courts later this month. However, a handful of directors were concerned about the impact delaying the funding indefinitely would have for organizers, should the court rule in the society’s favour.
A motion to postpone was defeated, as was a motion from Gillis to deny the application altogether, despite his assertion the TNRD should not become involved in a dispute before the courts. It was also noted funding was not granted to the Provincial Winter Fair until August of last year.
“The request for funding is premature to the extent that there’s a danger that they may not be conducting a winter fair at all,” Gillis said. “The KXA is, in fact, through their own winter fair society, planning on hosting a winter fair. Anybody can see that two of them would probably be a tragic mistake, but each party seems to be determined to go ahead on their own.
“I would suggest it would be reckless of us to throw $5,000 or any amount into the middle of these legal issues.”
Still the TNRD approved a motion to support the event after Kamloops Mayor Peter Milobar suggested $5,000 be granted to a group holding a fair in the North Thompson for 4-H-related activities, pending authorization from the courts.