PHOTOS: Quesnel’s Billy Barker Days being considered a success by organizers and police

Thursday night’s Bob Willson Memorial Crash to Pass attracted a huge crowd at the Gold Pan Speedway. Ronan O’Doherty photo
Thursday night’s Bob Willson Memorial Crash to Pass attracted a huge crowd at the Gold Pan Speedway. Forty-two cars timed in, 37 were in the main at the end of the night, and Quesnel’s Justin Price was the big winner. Ronan O’Doherty photo
Louise and Jim Crossen pose with their fifth-place Billy Button Draw prize, a $100 gold nugget. Lindsay Chung photo
Presley Kitamura welcomes guests to the Billy Barker Days office at LeBourdais Park. Lindsay Chung photo
Al Simmons performs Friday morning as part of Kids’ Day in the Park. Ronan O’Doherty photo
Harlequin lead singer George Belanger performs Saturday night. Lindsay Chung photo
The Stone Willie Band performs Sunday afternoon. Lindsay Chung photo
OccyJuiceBox Band performs its Fleetwood Mac tribute show Sunday evening to close out the 45th Annual Billy Barker Days Festival. Lindsay Chung photo
A large crowd gathered at LeBourdais Park Saturday night to watch Harlequin perform. Lindsay Chung photo
Country star Michelle Wright performs Friday night. Ronan O’Doherty photo
Billy Barker makes his way down Reid Street to check out the Gold Dust Mall. Lindsay Chung photo Billy Barker makes his way down Reid Street to check out the Gold Dust Mall. Lindsay Chung photo
Saroj Ardhawa looks through the colourful dresses for sale in the Gold Dust Mall. Lindsay Chung photo
Linda Theoret was selling a lot of cowboy hats in the Gold Dust Mall over the four-day festival. Lindsay Chung photo
Quesnel Ambassador Nalyssa Runge is about to get dunked by fellow Ambassador Sydney Williams Sunday aftertnoon. With the dunk tank, Integris Credit Union raised $2,300 for the Student Nutrition Program. Lindsay Chung photo
Three-year-old Ophelia Knevel of Quesnel throws a bean bag at the Fortis booth as Barb Horrell looks on during Kids’ Day at the Park Friday morning. Lindsay Chung photo
Three-year-old Icelynn Boucher blows giant bubbles Friday morning during Kids’ Day in the Park. Lindsay Chung photo
Four-year-old Issabelle Burzinsky gets her face painted Friday morning during Kids’ Day in the Park. Lindsay Chung photo
Ten-year-old Gordy and eight-year-old Lexi Allin of Fort St. John have fun in the photo booth Friday morning during Kids’ Day in the Park. Lindsay Chung photo
Eight-year-old Jordyn McLeod of Quesnel tries ringette at the Quesnel Lightning Ringette booth in LeBourdais Park Friday morning during Kids’ Day in the Park. Lindsay Chung photo
The ?Esdilagh First Nation entry makes its way along the parade route Saturday morning. Ronan O’Doherty photo
The Friends of Bouchie-Milburn Society float makes its way down the street. Ronan O’Doherty photo
There were lots of smiles and waves from the Northstar Soccer Camp parade participants. Ronan O’Doherty photo
There were some beautiful cars — and people — in this year’s parade. Ronan O’Doherty photo
The SkyFest float travels down the street. Ronan O’Doherty photo
The Quesnel Softball float celebrated the many recent successes of our local softball players. Ronan O’Doherty photo
Billy Barker Days stock car racing at the Gold Pan Speedway featured mini stocks, street stocks, legends and Wescar racing. Quesnel’s Trevor Adelman won the Wescar 100 for the second year in a row. Lindsay Chung photo
Dr. Natasha Jawanda and her hygienist Millicent Jawanda checked stuffed animals’ oral health during the Teddy Bear Clinic Sunday afternoon. Lindsay Chung photo
Dr. Nazar Alhaddad does a checkup for four-year-old Lucy Martin of Dawson Creek’s teddy bear during Sunday afternoon’s Teddy Bear Clinic. Lindsay Chung photo
Agatka Jaworski of Quesnel Family Optometric Center takes six-year-old Tiffany Butler of Quesnel and Winnie the Pooh through an eye exam during the Teddy Bear Clinic Sunday afternoon. Lindsay Chung photo
Carlos and David Gonzalez welcomed players young and old to the Video Game Party Truck, offering free video games and a chance to try virtual reality games as well. The truck features six televisions, Wifi and a generator, and Carlos says they have the latest, coolest games for everyone from little kids to adults. Carlos and his wife, Melissa, started offering the Video Game Party Truck in January, and he says they do all kinds of events, mostly birthday parties. Lindsay Chung photo
Jason Mutas of Prince George tries out the virtual reality game console outside the Video Game Party Truck. Lindsay Chung photo

Despite a bit of iffy weather to start off the festival, this year’s 45th Annual Billy Barker Days is being hailed as a success.

“I think it went wonderfully,” said Selena Weiers, president of the Billy Barker Days Society. “We had a little weather at the start that wasn’t so great — it was a little dampened down for seniors’ day, but it got beautiful and sunny by Friday evening, and the weather opened up for a beautiful parade day and day in the park.

Weiers says it is hard to tell what the attendance is like because it is a free festival, and they don’t really have a way of monitoring who comes in, but she feels the festival was well-attended this year.

“I know our kids’ day was well-attended, as well as the seniors’ day — I know we had over 200 seniors; they really enjoyed the day,” she said. “We had close to 80 entries in our parade, we had one 130 kids today for Teddy Bear Clinic. I think, all in all, I’ve heard some great things about the laser show Friday and Saturday.”

About 100 people volunteered throughout the four-day festival.

The Billy Barker Days Society is made up of 17 active members, as well as a handful of members who are still involved but don’t necessarily go to all the meetings.

“I think there are only four or five of us out of those 17 who aren’t lifetime members, which means more than 10 years,” noted Weiers.

Weiers says about 100 people volunteered throughout the four-day festival.

Many people come back to Billy Barker Days year after year after year and bring their families and friends, and people travel from near and far to take in the festival.

“I think it’s families,” Weiers said when asked why she thinks Billy Barker Days is so special to people. “I think if you’ve ever lived here or know somebody who lives here, they draw people in. I know people who actually build their vacations around family here because it gives something for everybody. There’s something for everybody to do, whether it’s Crash to Pass or the racetrack being your thing or the rodeo or just being in the park for some free entertainment. There are so many things this weekend that bring people from far and wide.”

Weiers thanks everyone for a fantastic weekend.

“The community spirit is just huge in our town,” she said. “All our businesses that contribute, we have over 150 sponsors, and without any of that, we would be nothing, so a huge thank you to all of them.”

There were many big winners throughout the weekend, and in the ever-popular Billy Button Draw, Gerald Langlois won the first prize of a $1,000 gold nugget. Michael McKinnon won a 14K gold pendant for second prize, while Tamara Chzmazia won a $300 gold nugget, Catherine Forbes won a $200 gold nugget, and Jim Crossen won a $100 gold nugget.

From a policing perspective, Quesnel RCMP Detachment Commander Staff Sgt. Andrew Burton says Billy Barker Days was a success.

Burton says calls for service and the prisoner count were down from previous years, and between Thursday afternoon and Sunday evening, Quesnel RCMP responded to 125 calls.

“Most of them were minor in nature,” he noted in an email.

The 125 calls is down from 173 in 2018 and 149 in 2016 (there was no festival in 2017 due to the wildfires).

Burton says police were proactive in their enforcement approach again this year, utilizing additional police officers from Prince George and Williams Lake and conducting curfew checks, several road checks and licenced premise checks of local liquor establishments, including Saturday night’s barn dance.

“While the RCMP were steady, and several arrests were made over the weekend for minor offences, the majority of people were enjoying themselves and were responsible, resulting in very few concerns for police,” said Burton.

READ MORE: PHOTOS: Billy Barker Days opens in Quesnel!

Lindsay Chung
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