Chilliwack’s Christie Kerr helped the PNE pivot in a wildly different direction during the pandemic. With restrictions on large gatherings, the annual event turned into a series of drive-through shows. (PNE photo)

Chilliwack’s Christie Kerr helped the PNE pivot in a wildly different direction during the pandemic. With restrictions on large gatherings, the annual event turned into a series of drive-through shows. (PNE photo)

Chilliwack’s Christie Kerr recognized for innovative work with PNE

Kerr helped re-imagine the annual event as COVID restrictions prevented large in-person gatherings

Christie Kerr’s efforts in a very challenging year have earned her a prestigious honour.

The Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (C.A.F.E.) has selected the Chilliwack woman for the Canadian Fair Champion Award, given to “those that go the extra mile for their organization and set an example as the industry’s national champion.”

Kerr is the Director of Fair Operations and Special Programs for the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE). Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and a restriction on large gatherings, this year’s event had to be re-imagined on the fly.

Kerr led her team through a major pivot, turning the PNE into a drive-through event.

RELATED: ‘Save the PNE!’: CEO, labour union call on new feds to offer COVID relief

“To hear our industry association call Christie’s name was an incredible validation of over six months of work to keep the PNE relevant and operationally alive during the COVID-19 crisis that largely stagnated the industry across Canada,” said Jeff Strickland, the PNE’s Vice President of Operations. “Christie’s unstoppable enthusiasm and ‘can do’ attitude spread throughout our organization inspiring our team, and those in the fairs and events industry across the country. This award is very well deserved.”

Dubbed ‘A Taste of PNE,’ visitors were able to drive their vehicles along a route through Hastings Park, and see attractions like the Super Dogs from their cars. A section called Dino Drive featured a 50’ Brachiousauras, a Triceratops, and a T-Rex.

RELATED: Chilliwack dancer entertains visitors at PNE drive-thru parade

A ‘Reverse Parade’ saw people waving and honking from their car as they traveled a route lined with dancers and puppets.

The series continued with other shows, like the drive-through Tech Wonderland in November.

“I am so grateful to be part of a team of people who refused to give up and chose to stay focused on what we could do rather than what we couldn’t,” Kerr said.

The successful series is now continuing with WinterLights – A Magical Journey to Santa — a completely sold-out drive-through event along a two-kilometre route where, according to the PNE website, “You will be transported through nine enchanted lands filled with glowing lights in your mission to discover Santa.”


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
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