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The Legend of Bylaw Bill - Remembering Bill Sumner

The Canadian “Wild and Woolly West” is a land dotted with towns and cities where the monotony of long journeys are broken by the sight of a John Deere tractor plowing a dusty field or a seven-mile train bringing the reaps of the farmers’ rewards to market. Long summer days and short winter sun are the hallmarks of these territories. The west is scattered by mean hombres, known as the “Bad Guys” as well as, thankfully, gentle and kind people that are the “Good Guys” and the heroes that move a society forward. At the heart of many of these communities, big and small, are summer fairs of every description and every size. From single-day events to exceptional extravaganzas, with titles like K-Days of Edmonton, Winnipeg’s Red River Exhibition, and a world-famous Calgary Stampede.

As you drill down into the inner workings of these communities and fairs, you will find some

of the “Good Guys” tirelessly working to improve their surroundings - not only for the good

of themselves – but for the greater good of their community. One of the really Good Guys was Bill Sumner who departed us and the Woolly West for greener pastures, that I’m sure of.

I would have first crossed paths with Bill sometime in the early 1980s as he traversed the Canadian landscape attending fairs with his outstanding food concession operation. He was

always an inspiration to be admired, often leading the pack with his showmanship, professional operation, kind-hearted nature, work ethic and his overwhelming contributions

to the events he attended. Always willing to lend a helping hand or some wise advice became his trademark.

I so admired the demeanour in which Bill could communicate with every type of person that crossed his path - from the employee that started his very first job and needed that special type of guidance to succeed; or maybe a co-worker or associate that needed a sympathetic ear (that would be me); or the CEO of Edmonton Northlands. It didn’t matter who it was, Bill had that knack for speaking to anyone with ease.

As time marches along, I find that Bill was so giving not only of his time and advice but also

that he donated his time to causes that became dear to his heart. Causes like the Junior

Camber of Commerce; Calgary Junior Colts Football, Lakeview United Church; The Distress

Centre; Lakeview Community Association; and where I knew him best at The Canadian

Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, where he volunteered his time and expertise for over 12

years. Bill became so involved and grew to understand the ins and outs of CAFE so well that

he became coined “Bylaw Bill”. During his tenure with CAFE, he was awarded the most

prestigious award known as “The Roll Of Honour”. Bill is highly deserving of this designation

and his name stands proudly alongside many of the other most influential leaders in the

Canadian fair industry. That’s so impressive.

As we enter the 2023 Wooley West Fair Season – maybe the lights will be a bit dimmer, as the bright light of Bill Sumner will be missed.

Maybe Amanda Frigon of the Explore Edmonton and K-Days put it best - Bill was an angel on earth and now wherever he is.

View Bill Sumner's obituary & leave your condolences here:

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