Along with the heat, attendance figures at the 122nd Salmon Arm Fair were soaring.
But, an intense thunderstorm that began around 8:15 Saturday night drove a large crowd into the tent by the main stage and forced the closure of the midway.
Longtime president of the host Salmon Arm Fair and Shuswap Lake Agricultural Association Phil Wright, says Friday’s numbers were up by 50 percent, due to a presentation by world-class gardener Brian Minter, Adam Fitzpatrick’s Elvis tribute on the main stage and a very well attended Rotary Barn Dance. The $5 entry fee for those who arrived at the fair before 5 p.m. also helped.
“Saturday crowds were over 6,000 due to hot weather, the large and varied rides offered by the midway and other attractions such as the SuperDogs,” says Wright. “Sunday crowds were reduced by weather but the church service under the big tent was well-attended.”
Thrilled with the fair, new co-ordinator Jan Durocher said she heard positive comments throughout the event, including one vendor who said she sold more product in four hours than she had during the entirety of other events.
Grateful to the pre-fair coverage provided by local media, Durocher said people, who had previously no idea Salmon Arm had a fair, came from several outlying areas.
“One thing that struck me to the core was a gentleman who has six children and said he knew his kids were safe,” she says, pointing out that volunteers were easily identifiable in their reflective vests. “He said they could go on the rides and move around the fair and he didn’t have to worry about them.”
Happy children clustered around the Kids’ Zone and enjoyed the mechanical bull and bouncy slide. And folks of all ages often returned for another look at the hilarious lumberjack show.
“There were no age barriers, it was one of those events where the synergy just happened,” she says. “it’s nice to get that magic, you don’t always get it.”
Meanwhile, grateful for the support of volunteers, exhibitors and the public, Wright called the fair a very successful event, despite the weather.
That certainly was the case at the main stage where under-cover spectators were protected from the weather and enjoyed an eclectic mix of entertainment, thanks to longtime organizer Gil Risling and MC Lori Risling.
As always, ‘Elvis’ drew large and enthusiastic audiences with his tribute performances that have become more polished over the years.
Smaller crowds braved the daytime weather to watch a variety of performers at the Heritage Lane stage.
Always a crowd-pleaser, Shuswap Idol featured talented performers of all ages, some of whom organizer Shelley Desautels believes have a musical career ahead of them.
First place winner in the adult category, Nicia Salmen took home $500 as did Alearia Koch who won first in the junior category.
Mayor Alan Harrison, who with wife, Debby, volunteered as a greeter Saturday afternoon, says the fair is Salmon Arm’s longest-standing tradition.
“It is so important for communities to have traditions, it builds the culture of the region,” he says. “While the Fair is also about our agricultural roots, it is mostly about people from all parts of the region interacting with each other; so Salmon Arm – friendly, humble and fun.”
And Durocher says the vision for the 2020 fair will be set clearly with the theme, “More to See.”