Southlands Country Fair rolls out some old-fashioned fun

You can get close to the horse-jumping action at Southlands Country Fair. Photo by Noriko Tidball.

You can get close to the horse-jumping action at Southlands Country Fair. Photo by Noriko Tidball.

Vancouver may be a cosmopolitan city, but this weekend, it’s a little bit country.

The Southlands Country Fair happens this Sunday (September 14) in Southlands, an area that many Vancouverites don’t even know about. In this leafy residential neighbourhood, it’s not unusual to see people leading their horses along the quiet streets and on the trails of Pacific Spirit Park.

In addition to the people who live there, the upscale area is home to about 300 horses, housed in three major boarding barns and stables on private property.

The centre of the action is Southlands Riding Club, where riders bring their horses for training and practice in jumping, racing, and more. The annual Southlands Country Fair is a rare opportunity to check out what goes on at the club and spend a crisp fall day in place that feels like the country yet is in the heart of the city.

Horses share the road with cars, bikes, and pedestrians in Southlands. Photo by Noriko Tidball.

Horses share the road with cars, bikes, and pedestrians in Southlands. Photo by Noriko Tidball.

The riding club spans 16 acres with five outdoor rings, two indoor arenas, and a track and field. For the fair, there will be plenty of family-friendly activities throughout.

There's plenty of room for the kids to roam at the fair. Photo by Noriko Tidball.

There’s plenty of room for the kids to roam at the fair. Photo by Noriko Tidball.

The main draw is the horse shows, with demonstrations of activities like jumping, polo, and dressage (which is kind of like ballet for horses). Horse races are also scheduled, as well as a performance from the 20-rider drill team.

There will be a polo demo at the fair. Photo by Noriko Tidball.

There will be a polo demo at the fair. Photo by Noriko Tidball.

For kids, pony rides are a highlight, and parents can sign up for a timeslot when they enter. (Rides cost $5 each.) There’s also a petting farm with sheep and goats and a straw pile for kids to jump in—because hey, why not?

Face painting, horseshoe decorating, and a scavenger hunt round things out, plus hay-wagon rides to entertain everyone in the family.

It's not often that city slickers get a chance to take a hay ride. Photo by Noriko Tidball.

It’s not often that city slickers get a chance to take a hay ride. Photo by Noriko Tidball.

There’s a good dose of quirky fun at the fair. You can watch a gentleman herding ducks with his sheepdog, or play Prince Philip games, which are team competitions like egg-and-spoon races.

Adults may be more interested in the silent auction, thrift sale, book sale, and arts and crafts sale.

Adults can up the ante at the country fair's silent auction. Photo by Noriko Tidball.

Adults can up the ante at the country fair’s silent auction. Photo by Noriko Tidball.

For the first time this year, there will be urban agricultural demonstrations on how to keep chickens in your back yard, and how to build an urban container garden.

There’s also entertainment by local musicians, a picnic area, and both indulgent and healthy food for sale.

The fair takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. rain or shine; most of the activities will be moved under cover if the sky falls.

Admission to the grounds is by a suggested $5 donation; most activities are free or for a nominal fee of $1 to $5. For more information, see the riding club’s website.

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