“Hunky” Bill Konyk at the PNE Fair in an undated photo.

PNE food legend ‘Hunky’ Bill Konyk dies days before 2019 fair opens

Family-operated Hunky Bill’s business has spanned three generations

Just days before the PNE is set to begin for another summer, fair food legend “Hunky” Bill Konyk has died, according to a PNE statement. He was 88.

“Bill passed away peacefully last night, surrounded by his family,” a media release stated Wednesday morning (Aug. 14).

“It is with incredible sadness that the Pacific National Exhibition acknowledges the passing of the one of one of our longest standing concessionaires and iconic members of our Fair family, Bill Konyk, known across the Canadian fair industry as Hunky Bill.”

The Winnipeg-born Konyk was “a beloved member of the extended PNE family for 52 years, beginning, as the legend has it, when the then Vancouver based radio executive bet a friend $10 that he could get a booth at the PNE to sell his homemade Ukrainian style perogies.

“The story goes that Bill showed up at the PNE administration office and spent an hour and a half convincing the then head of the PNE booth sales department to give him a chance. Konyk got his booth, won his $10 and began a 52-year journey during which time Hunky Bill has become one of the most iconic pitchmen and restaurateurs in Canadian history.”

CLICK HERE to read more Hunky Bill’s history on the company website.

Many years ago, as a freelance sports reporter, Konyk met and interviewed many sports celebrities including Mickey Mantle, Casey Stengel, Bobby Hull, Yogi Berra and Ted Williams. “Casey Stengel called him the Crazy Canuck after watching him consume his favorite beverage – beer,” says a post at hunkybills.com/history.

By 1967, Konyk worked as general manager of the CFUN radio station in Vancouver, at a time when he also imported Ukrainian food from Winnipeg.

The family-operated Hunky Bill’s business has spanned three generations, according to PNE spokesperson Laura Ballance.

The food stand has been a fixture at events across the province, including Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair.

“Bill’s loving wife Kay and three sons Bill Jr., Clayton, and Mark will continue on the tradition of serving the best Ukrainian food in the city.

“Hunky Bill will be incredibly missed by his many friends and family across Canada, including all those in his PNE Fair family.”

• RELATED STORY:

The 2019 PNE Fair: What’s new, what’s not and when to visit

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Photographer captures Port Alberni personalities in black and white portraits

Meet John Douglas, Courtney Naesgaard in double exhibit Jan. 18 at Rollin Art Centre

Alberni Valley Community Foundation opens grant application process for 2020

Nearly $30K available for Port Alberni-based charities

Stray cat with ‘serious burns’ recovering at Alberni SPCA

The BC SPCA’s Alberni-Clayoquot branch is asking members of the public for help with medical costs

B.C. government puts kibosh on drag racing at Alberni Valley Regional Airport

AVDRA was hopeful for a three-year temporary contract to race at the airport

Wet, white and windy winter weather hits Port Alberni

Snow expected to turn to rain on Thursday

VIDEO: Cold snap brings ideal conditions for Okanagan icewine

Take an inside look at how icewine is made

Blue Monday is a myth but seasonal affective disorder and the winter blues are real

Canadian Mental Health Association says weather can affect mood

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Ice chunk from truck crushes vehicle windshield on Vancouver Island

None injured, but Nanaimo RCMP say there can be fines for accumulations of ice and snow

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Wind and snow spark power outages across Vancouver Island

Winter storm warning in effect for east and west regions while wind warning to hit south and north

BC Ferries hybrid ships arrive in Victoria on Saturday

The battery-operated vessels will take over smaller routes

Most Read