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Tbird in Langley remains a Tidball family affair

George and Dianne Tidball’s legacy continues with support from many family members
Laura-Jane Tidball is one of many family members working to keep the legacy of George and Dianne Tidball alive and growing at tbird. L.J. is a professional rider, who competed for the Canadian Team in last year’s Nations Cup in Langley. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Ronda Payne/Special to the Langley Advance Times

Five years ago, the founders of Thunderbird Show Park, George and Dianne Tidball, passed away.

But the legacy of 46 years endures with their family’s enthusiastic support.

Their daughter, Jane, is the president and tournament director of tbird today.

Jane has seen and made a lot of changes because that was one of her mom’s objectives. She often quotes her mom when she says she wants people to come to tbird every year and wonder what’s new.

It’s one of the things that keeps the organization constantly planning for the future, Jane explained.

For instance, those attending on Sunday, June 2 for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of Canada at the Odlum Brown BC Open, may not necessarily notice every single change or improvement that’s been made to the north Langley operation, but there are always a number of new things.

It’s part of Dianne’s vision and legacy.

“When the business passed on from my parents, that was one of the main reasons I took the job,” Jane said.

“I wanted to continue their legacy.”

Jane’s sister, Laura Balisky, runs a training facility, known as Thunderbird Show Stables in Langley, with her husband Brent and Jane’s daughter Laura-Jane (L.J.) Tidball. And that, too, is considered another valuable asset to the park.

“She has shown in two Olympic games,” Jane said of Balisky.

Chris Pack, chief operating officer and tournament manager, notes the Baliskys are highly in touch with the equestrian industry.

“They travel to horse shows up and down both coasts,” Pack elaborated.

“They hear and learn things we wouldn’t necessarily know about,” added Jane.

Jane’s other sister, Kathy Robbins, takes charge of the food services component of the family business – running the restaurant realm.

“She’s an amazing chef and she oversees our food services,” Jane said, adding, “My brother, Steve, is a builder and entrepreneur and he advises on architecture, building, and business projects.”

The building projects are numerous in scope. A new vendor area with individual log cabins is just one of the recent additions. Jane said the park has tripled in size in the past 10 years.

New barn, new trails, new grandstands, and a new outdoor bar and patio area, are all part of the most recent structural initiatives on site.

The siblings are all supportive of tbird and want to see it continue to thrive in honour of their parents.

They also serve as members of the organization’s board and are collective owners of the park.

Each year they discuss and consider a wishlist of capital improvements picking which will come to fruition.

“I’m so proud of how we work as a unit,” Jane said.

“The family and management team are always giving us ideas on improvements. We’ve got a very long term plan to be here,” she added.

The siblings consider themselves the second generation of tbird, with the third and fourth generations already helping out at the site, as well.

“They all enjoy seeing the growth,” said Pack.

Jane’s daughter, L.J. rides at the top level in the sport and travels the world promoting Thunderbird. Her recent win with the Canadian Equestrian Team in 2018 at the Nations Cup in Xalapa Mexico (it was her first Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup) is something of which the family and community can be proud.

The focus of every family member (and every tbird staff member for that matter) is to ensure the experience for competitors and spectators is constantly enhanced, Jane said.

The matriarch, Dianne, was determined to make horse events accessible for everyone to watch and enjoy and her family carries on that belief in how they focus on improvements and how they treat people like the much welcomed visitors they are.

No matter what the Tidball family gets up to at tbird, it will always be with an eye to the future and a loving nod to the past.



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