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October 11, 2009

Prince George Exhibition – 2009: What I thought of it?

Extending from its usual four days to five this year, the 97th Annual PGX had something for everyone.

From the myriad of performers on the Community Stage, to the Bull-a-Rama, there was plenty to see and do. My favorite part of this years’ PGX was Heritage Lane. Already a fan of Huble Homestead and Barkerville, Heritage Lane was a mini re-creation of Prince George’s colorful history.

Adding charm to the atmosphere was the train track running around the displays, complete with passengers of all ages and a very convincing conductor! While the train chugged along the tracks, the Country Cuzzins sang songs that originated well before my time. The result was authentic and educational, and definitely the best part of the PGX this year.

But true to Prince George form, there was plenty of controversy that arose from this years’ action.

It seems the Spinning Angels just can’t get a break in this town. After performing only two of their scheduled four acts, they were approached by the PGX manager and told they could not dance because there was too many complaints. This came as a surprise to Linda Gabriel, owner of Spinning Angels, as the first two shows had great audience response and she had many people coming up asking for business cards.

“Needless to say, I was upset. Jesse (the student who performed with me) and myself both kept our performances really really clean. No hip rolls, body waves, writhing, butt wiggling, or anything like that!”

For those who have yet to hear of Spinning Angels, it’s a fitness company that teaches average women how to utilize the pole as a fun way to tone their upper body and core. Women who exercise this way can expect to burn up to 600 calories an hour – and it’s much more fun than running on a treadmill.

So why then the big fuss at the PGX? Unfortunately, there are many people who just can’t get past the fact that the pole has traditionally been reserved for women who are slinking around taking their clothes off for a group of over-zealous men. But within the last few years, pole fitness has emerged as an empowering way to get in shape. Women all over North America are signing up for pole fitness to lose weight, build muscle, and increase strength while having a great time.

But while management found the performances inappropriate or offensive, I’m shocked that they allowed a certain T-shirt vendor located outside Kin 2 to remain open. I’ve seen some risqué clothing before, but the slogans on these T-shirts were downright disgusting, degrading, and offensive. And I’m definitely no prude! In my opinion, this vendor should have been asked to take down the shirts, which were clearly displayed for anyone to see as they walked by, or shut down altogether.

So pole fitness – no. Slogans saying “Mountand Do Me” or “Happiness is a b**** with a c*** in her mouth” – yes.

Myself? I’ve been curious about taking pole fitness, and was disappointed to find Linda’s beginner classes are full for September! I guess I’ll have to take those private lessons…

Also to hit public attention was the “bullying” incident that involved teenage girls on Friday. According to the mother of the victim, her daughter was targeted by a group of girls that had been tormenting her for a few years already. When the teenager ran into the group at the fair, the bullying escalated into violence. Not having heard both sides of this story, it leaves many parents feeling nervous about dropping their kids off for an innocent day (or evening) of fun. However, having been a teenager myself in the not so distant past, I do remember the shadier side of the fair.

I used to attend the fair in Armstrong every September. It was a great place to meet people I wasn’t allowed to hang out with, wear clothes I wasn’t permitted to wear, try smoking, watch friends get drunk, take in a few fights…you get the point. It seems not much changes over the years or from town to town – which is why the fair draws so many young people. It’s a place to hang out unsupervised (how many parents want to escort their 15 year olds around – or how many 15 year olds would hang out with their parents at the fair on a Friday night?). Of course not all kids that attend are looking for trouble, but it’s certainly not hard to find at these venues. Some of it is normal, harmless behavior, but in the case of these girls, it turned into something worse.

So what’s a parent to do? Ban their kids from attending? Tag along like bad paparazzi?

Fortunately for me, my parents trusted me enough to let me attend without them (after I was 15 and my big brother was there too!), most likely aware that any trouble I got into would be minor, and that I would make my own judgments based upon the values they had instilled in me. Even perfect kids raised by perfect parents can make mistakes. It’s easy to get caught up in “pack mentality” when you hang out in large groups.

So equip your children with the fact that you know what goes on at the fair and let them know how important it is to make sound decisions for them. If they have a cell phone, have them call you at an appointed time to check in and let you know everything is ok. If possible, pick them from the fair yourself – it helps deterre substance abuse and prevents them from driving with someone who is under the influence.

All in all, the fair is supposed to be a great time with friends: exciting rides, games, greasy food, and plenty of exhibitions to see.

If only they’d get rid of those t-shirts….

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