PNE Perogie King Hunky Bill dies days before Fair’s 2019 start

Vancouver Courier

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A beloved PNE Fair legend has passed away at 88.

“Hunky Bill” Konyk as he celebrated his 50th year selling all things perogie at the Fair and the PNE in 2016. Photo by Dan Toulgoet/Vancouver Courier

The PNE announced Bill Konyk’s passing in a press release Wednesday morning, which read in part, “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.”

According to the release, Konyk passed away peacefully Aug. 13, surrounded by his family.

Hunky Bill had been 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 perogie’s.

As the story goes, Konyk 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.

Konyk was also famous for the infomercials he starred in to sell his very own perogie makers. You can see the 1983 version of that commercial here.

Hunky Bill’s is a family operated business spanning three generations. Konyk’s wife Kay and three sons Bill Jr., Clayton and Mark plan to continue his tradition of serving the best Ukrainian food in Vancouver.

In a 2013 Courier story about the exotic food offerings at the Fair at the PNE, this reporter noted at the time, “As media ate at Gourmet Burgers, William “Hunky Bill” Konyk strolled by on the way to his adjacent perogie stand. Some of the younger journalists had no idea who this elderly man was, but the “Perogie King”, as he’s known, was given rock star treatment from others old enough to know they were in the presence of midway and infomercial greatness.”

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