SMITHERS, B.C. -- After a one-year absence due to the COVID pandemic, the Bulkley Valley Exhibition came roaring back this past weekend -- and Smithers area residents showed they were more than ready to enjoy the show.

It was a bit smaller than fairs of the past, but the 102nd edition of the BVX still managed to attract large crowds and organizers were very happy to have staged the event at all.

The Bulkley Valley Agricultural and Industrial Association received very little notice that it could go ahead with this year's fair... and the plans had to come together very quickly.

"We heard at the beginning of July that we coould have a fair," explained spokesperson Ruth Lloyd, adding "normally we start organizing the fair in about March so it's July and they say `you can have a fair it's next month' -- so now we have a fair!"

Many of the usual fair events were able to go ahead, including the rodeo, loggers’ sports, the midway --- even zucchini races in the Kid’s Zone.

There was also panning for gold -- with Yukon Dan -- who was very happy to be back in action, after the COVID pandemic virtually destroyed his business.

"I've been educating in schools for the past 23 years, I teach roughly five thousand students across Canada so over the years I've been teaching well over 100,000 kids I've taught about my knowledge of gold and gold mining," he explained, but "when COVID hit I lost everything immediately; from last April, May and June -- the first three months after COVID started -- I was booked totally, but since then I have lost everything which means I had to file for insolvency -- I couldn't pay my bills."

But since June, when schools started to invite him back, Yukon Dan has been able to do outdoor presentations, as well as birthday parties, scouts and guides events -- and fairs, like the BVX -- as we all try to make the long journey back.