By Cam Fortems
Kamloops This Week
Two rival non-profit societies met in B.C. Supreme Court June 29 for the right to run the same non-profit event for children in September.
The historic Kamloops Exhibition Association, which traces its roots back to to the late 19th century, is asking a B.C. Supreme Court justice to shut down a rival agricultural event in Barriere that sees farm families come from across B.C. to the traditional 4-H event.
“There’s currently two events planned: one by the plaintiffs and one by the defendants,” KXA lawyer Courtney AuBuchon said.
“Both are calling themselves Provincial Winter Fair. Both are essentially the same events, but in different areas.”
The KXA has asked the court for a temporary injunction to shut down what it says is a Barriere-based group that has stolen its identity and is passing itself off as the longtime Provincial Winter Fair.
“The defendants [Barriere-based group] have no rights to that name,” AuBuchon argued.
Their efforts have been so successful the Barriere group has sowed up 70 per cent of participants — putting the rival weekend in Kamloops from Sept. 22 to Sept. 26 in doubt without a court-order to shut down the other event, said the KXA lawyer.
The Kamloops Exhibition Association filed the lawsuit against the Provincial Winter Fair Society and seven people.
Six of them are former organizers with the KXA’s own Winter Fair committee, while a seventh is a former bookkeeper for the KXA. That society was formed early this year after a dispute among KXA board members and organizers of the 4-H event
The lawsuit claims the competing Provincial Winter Fair Society was formed in March by the seven people named in the lawsuit and began using the name, forms and logo in its marketing.
The fair was started in 1939 and operated in Kamloops until 2010, when the KXA lost its lease with the Tk’emlups Indian Band. Organizers then moved it to Barriere with a long-term goal of eventually bringing it back to Kamloops.
Tyson McNeil-Hay, lawyer for the newly constituted Provincial Winter Fair Society, argued it was the winter fair organizers themselves through the decades who owned the rights and goodwill.
The KXA, he said, was an associated, but outside, entity.
The split happened this year over disputes about money.
“That’s why my clients decided to hold the fair themselves,” McNeil-Hay said.
Justice Peter Rogers is expected to make a ruling this month or in early August — only weeks before the fairs are set to operate on the same weekend.
While the rival groups show some affiliation with either Kamloops or Barriere, lawyers said those alliances are not strict and there are members on each from both communities.