History of the Fair...

History of the Coombs Fair

The Arrowsmith Agricultural Association (AAA) has 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 tourist destination, attracting over a million visitors a year to the Coombs Old Country Market, famous for the goats on the roof of the market.


In 1913, with the help of the BC Government, 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 100+ years, and has been recognized as an example of a successful agricultural fair, maintaining its core values of supporting agricultural and community values.


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 changed to the Arrowsmith Agricultural Association in 1948.


Since its inception, the AAA has followed its original mandate to foster community spirit by 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 ours are able to provide resources, services and skills to support them. Through our fair exhibit categories, we pass along the traditional skills of home and farm to new generations. It is paramount to the AAA that the traditional agricultural way of life is preserved and our food supply is safe and sustainable.

The overall purpose of the Arrowsmith Agricultural Association, as stated in our constitution, is to:

  1. Foster community spirit;

  2. To promote cultivation of the soil and general development of agricultural resources;

  3. To facilitate, directly or through other associations, the education and personal development t of people of all ages in agricultural and farming activities;

  4. To conduct an agricultural fair;

  5. 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 Association covers all of School District 69, which includes the communities of Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Coombs, Errington, French Creek, Whiskey Creek, Hilliers, Qualicum Bay, Bowser, Horne Lake, Deep Bay and Nanoose Bay.


The AAA is governed by an elected volunteer board of directors who represent a broad range of community interests, who steadfastly committed to our purpose as stated above. Through careful management since 1913, the AAA has added to its holdings, and now owns the 9 acre fairgrounds and the buildings located there. 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, and is recognized as a member in good standing of the BC Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (BCAFE), the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (CAFE), 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 BC Agricultural Fairs and Exhibitions. We also are active members of both the Qualicum Beach and Parksville Chambers of Commerce.