Arrowsmith Agricultural Association
The Arrowsmith Agricultural Association (AAA) has experienced a rich agricultural and community background. In 1911, the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railroad from Parksville to Port Alberni brought new settlers to the Coombs and Hilliers area seeking a new life in farming for their families. The CPR made land surrounding the railway available to the new settlement. The original Salvation Army settlement began in 1910 and was subsequently named Coombs after Canadian Salvation Army Commissioner Thomas Bales Coombs, who lead the first group of British Settlers to the area. Coombs is now recognized as a popular vacation destination, attracting over a million visitors a year to the Coombs Old Country Market, famous for the goats that live on the roof of the market.
In 1914, with the help of the BC Government, the association and a number of the new arrivals organized the area’s first agricultural fair showcasing local fruits, vegetables and livestock. The Coombs Fall Fair, now held in August each year, has continued to thrive and grow over the last 104 years to become recognized as an example of a successful agricultural fair, maintaining its core values of supporting agriculture and family values.
the Qualicum Beach and Parksville Chambers of Commerce.
The AAA was initially incorporated as ‘The Cameron, Nanoose & Newcastle Agricultural Association’ on April 22, 1924 to promote and support local agriculture and settlers in the area. The name was subsequently changed to the Arrowsmith Agricultural Association in 1948.
Since our inception the AAA continues to support its original mandate offering a place where community can come together and share ideas. In our current times, where citizens are concerned about food sustainability and safety, organizations such as the AAA are able to provide resources, services and skills to support them. Overall, as a society, we have lost the hand down of skills that were received on the farm to subsequent generations. In the past number of years we are benefiting from an influx of young couples and their children as they return to our community to recapture a simpler and more fulfilling way of life and to raise their children. The importance of providing support to these young families is paramount to the AAA in ensuring that the traditional agricultural way of life is preserved and our food supply is safe and sustainable. This also includes livestock.
The overall purpose of the Arrowsmith Agricultural Association, as stated in our constitution, is to:
Foster community spirit
To promote cultivation of the soil and general development of agricultural resources
To facilitate, directly or through other associations, the education and personal development t of people of all ages in agricultural and farming activities
To conduct an agricultural fair
To lease, purchase or otherwise acquire land and personal property and to improve and develop or lease and sublet the land and personal property for the advancement of the Societies purpose.
Although our mandate started as a Fall Fair we have grown to include programs that support our local and surrounding communities. The AAA is situated in Coombs, BC, the Fairgrounds support the surrounding communities of Electoral District F, including Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Errington and Hilliers. The geographic area the Association also operates in School District 69, within the Regional District of Nanaimo and includes the communities of
Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Coombs, Errington, French Creek, Whiskey Creek, Hilliers, Qualicum Bay, Bowser, Horne Lake, Deep Bay and Nanaimo. Our facilities are unique to the area as we provide both a general activity and sport centre in our Activity building as well as a reception Hall.
Some of those attending our Fall Fair and other activities, such as Family Day, have rarely been up close to the animals that are exhibited. They revel in petting and touching goats, sheep, ducks and more. Some have never held an animal. The joy of watching our 4-H children and young adults care and show their animals is a delight to all.
The AAA is governed by an elected volunteer board of directors who represent a broad range of community interests, and steadfastly committed to our purpose as stated above. Through careful management over the last 104 years, the AAA has added to its holdings. The AAA owns the 9 acre fairgrounds and the buildings located on the grounds. A portion of the land is leased, at a nominal fee, to the Coombs Volunteer Fire Department.
The AAA has a proven track record and has solid community support. The AAA is recognized as a member in good standing of the BC Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (BCAFE), the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (CAFÉ), and the International Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (IAFE). Currently, one of our AAA directors holds a position of Director on the Board of the BCAFE. We also are active members of both.
Coombs Fair - Our First Century (1913-2013)