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Charelle Evelyn

Charelle Evelyn

Reporter for the Prince George Citizen

Journalist, west coast native, music lover. Made in Canada.

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Go big or go home


At a spry 102 years old, the fair – formerly known at the P.G. – is taking its new “Go Big” motto as far as it can. “We represent all of northern British Columbia versus just Prince George,” said BCNE board president Alex Huber. “The other two regional fairs in B.C. are the PNE in Vancouver and IPE in Armstrong. We are in the elite club, if you want to call it, of being a regional fair now. We’ve got to act our part a little bit.” So how is this year’s exhibition stepping up its game? By going not just big, but huge for the four-day event running Aug. 7-10.

You want a big-name act to headline the fair? How about Alice in Chains on a Sunday night? Other main stage performances include KISS, Guns n’ Roses and Tom Petty tribute acts. TV personalities float your boat? Come check out celebrity chef Bob Blumer as he holds down the fort for the duration of the fair at the Flavour Arena inside Kin 2 and hosts professional and amateur cooks in the PG Iron Chef competition. (Stay tuned for the announcement of more celebrity guests.) The BCNE has also linked up with Pacific Western Brewing Co. to create the Cariboo, featuring a skateboard and BMX half-pipe demos, mechanical bull contests, sprinklers and water cannons and beach volleyball. The BCNE team has also arranged for bigger and better rides this year – that will be open an extra hour until midnight – and an expanded midway.

Traditional fair elements won’t be lacking either. A sanctioned massive team-penning event will bring nearly 500 riders and 300 head of cattle looking for points to get to finals. “It’s damn near a stampede,” said Huber. Heavy horse pull will also be expanded, with riders from as far out as Manitoba coming to participate. And for the first time in seven years, livestock will be back at the fair. “It’s important to go back to our roots,” Huber said. “The core is still agriculture and showcasing local producers.” Family passes (two adults, two kids) to the BCNE come in at $25, with $5 for each additional child. Kid’s Day at the fair will also return where admission for youngsters is only a toonie. Parking has been reduced to $3, with proceeds going to local non-profit organizations that count on the fair for funding every year. Visit or the British Columbia Northern Exhibition page on Facebook for more information.

From the ground up



Hailing from parts as far flung as eastern Canada and Minnesota, the five-piece Canadiana outfit is telling the northern story. Spencer Hammond (bass, vocals), Danny Bell (drums), Amy Blanding (mandolin, vocals, harmonica), Jeremy Pahl (banjo, vocals) and Eric Welscher-Bilodeau (guitar, vocals, piano) all had an established musical pedigree, making names for themselves as soloists and in groups such as the Salt Water Brothers, Ivan and Wyn, Canadian Waste and The Bricks.

Jeremy, Eric and Amy met at a 2013 Canada Day house party show and jam sessions soon brought in Danny (who had played on the Salt Water Brothers EP) and Spencer to round out the group. So why join forces? Spencer: You could always play by yourself but you’re always stuck with yourself. Being able to play music with people just adds more elements to it. Amy: Eric and I play as a duo together, but I think a band, for me it forces me to a different comfort zone, vocally and expressively. Being able to perform in that capacity, that’s totally different and I always wanted to do it.

I secretly always wanted to be Stevie Nicks… Eric: We found, quite quickly when we got together, that we’re all a little bit out of our comfort zone but this line up allowed us to expand in areas we weren’t accustomed to. Danny: I need a band. I don’t have a choice. What are the northern B.C. stories Black Spruce Bog are trying to tell? Amy: The songs that Jeremy that Eric have written are about people riding trains to Rupert and working at the mill and that type of thing, but it’s not just industry, it’s people who live here… We all love it here. There are pretty unique people that decide to live in northern British Columbia and their stories are really colourful, so why not write we know, what we’re in contact with on a daily basis? Black Spruce Bog recently completed a successful crowdfunding campaign to raise money to record their debut album.

Visit or find the band on Facebook for details on how to get the earpleasing and mouthwatering (the digital downloads come with mixed-herb seed cards) debut release and check them out at various festivals across the region this summer.




It’s hard to stand out in a film that’s already called Chupacabra vs. the Alamo, but Smith goes down in the annals of TV history with the memorable part of “young, horny teen who gets his penis bitten off by a chupacabra” in last year’s Syfy venture. Spoiler alert: he didn’t make it. But hey, neither did fellow Kelowna-born actor Taylor Kitsch, who met an untimely end while smoking up and attempting to join the Mile High Club in Snakes on a Plane. Raised in Prince George, Smith, 24, didn’t have time for the dramatic arts given his busy sport schedule. He played hockey and baseball his whole life, up until the point he decided he was going to give acting a shot.

“I always had plans to go to post-secondary school, but baseball was the biggest reason I was going,” said Smith, who played two years at Okanagan College. When he decided to hang up his cleats in 2011, he was at a bit of a crossroads. It was his mother who suggested he finally give in to the acting bug. “I can’t believe I’m one of the people that’s lucky enough to have parents to have told me to pursue this dream rather than the ones who say ‘Why don’t you have a realistic goal?” Within three months, Smith was enrolled at the Vancouver Academy of Dramatic Arts (VADA) for a six-month program that he said taught him some key lessons about being an actor – specifically how manoeuvre the tricky world of being on a set. “If it wasn’t for VADA, it would have been a huge learning curve,” Smith said.

He got to use those skills for his first gig in 2012, booking a role in the Kelowna-filmed TV movie A Mother’s Nightmare. He was technically late to the party, learning about the casting and sending in his headshot and resume a day after casting had ended, but he was so perfect for the part that (especially given that he looked so much like lead actor Grant Gustin, which was a key plot point) that he was hired. Since that first role, Smith has gone on to play the supporting lead in Canadian thriller Evangeline, which is currently on the festival circuit as well as the opportunity of a lifetime – to close out one of his favourite TV series, Psych. The USA network’s fauxclairvoyant detective comedy ended its eight-season run this spring with Smith playing the role of lead character Shawn Spencer’s replacement.

“If I never book anything again, in my mind I’m a successful actor, because I got to tell that story,” said Smith. “That, for me, is the best part.” A VADA instructor once told Smith that you know you’re an actor when you start telling people you are, and that’s something he’s taken to heart. Though he works at the Cactus Club to pay the bills between roles, Smith doesn’t say he’s pursuing acting – he’s doing it. And like his hockey scout father used to say about finding talent in smaller northern B.C. communities, Smith believes it doesn’t matter where you’re from because if you’re good enough, the world will know you. “Being an actor in Canada, you have to put in your time, put in your work and people will find you eventually,” Smith said. “As much as it’s tough to wait, you’ve got to know it’s worth it. The people who try for a bit and eventually give up, that’s not for me. I want to be happy I’ve made it, not take for granted what I get.”

A little about me

ncoyne3Norm Coyne has been active in local arts, entertainment and promotions for 15 years. He developed the Scene PG to provide local artists and musicians with exposure as well as connect a broader audience to the events and talent Prince George has to offer.


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