A lot has changed since last year’s fair.
Perhaps most notably, is the felt absence of the Langley-Aldergrove MP for the past 15 years, Mark Warawa.
Warawa announced his retirement from politics in January, before a cancer diagnosis in April – after announcing his intent to switch career paths into pastoral care for those in hospice care.
By the end of June, Warawa had died in hospice – at age 69 – from previously undetected cancer that spread to his colon and lymph nodes.
But the public wasn’t thinking of how Warawa went on Saturday at the Aldergrove Fair.
They were caught up in thoughts of the man he was, and until his very last days, acknowledged Den Robinson, director of the Aldergrove-based Thunderbird Fast Draw Club.
Warawa possessed a “boyish charm,” and had fallen “in love with the sport of fast draw, from the first day he tried it at one of our celebrity shoots,” Robinson said publicly.
By noon at the fair – a crowd of dozens had amassed to commemorate the beloved politician and family man, referred to as “an excellent worker” for Canadian constituents.
“Nobody has won this celebrity shoot-out event more times than Mark,” Robinson added.
Warawa’s wife Dianne formed the begining of queue with leaders including Langley MLA’s Mary Polak and Rich Coleman – to honour her late husband with a 20-person gun salute.
It all started with Dianne, much like the Warawa’s family of five children.
With her hand raised towards the heavens, the widow pulled the trigger on the first of many shots that rang out in memory of him.
Throughout the years, Warawa helped fair venues and community associations receive integral grant money when it didn’t come forth in time for the summer celebration, Robinson relayed.
Conservative front-runner Tako van Popta, who also fired in the salute, admitted that running for Langley-Aldergrove is “big shoes to fill.”
“It’s one of the most common things I hear from constituents, about the goodness of Mark,” van Popta admitted.
At the end of the procession, firearms were securely placed back in their holsters and a moment of silence blanketed the crowd.
“We have a saying among fast draw folks. Nobody passes away. We say they’re merely ‘heading west’,” Robinson voiced.
“And we will all meet again.”