Numbers were down, but spirits are high.
Ticket sales to the annual Salmon Arm Fair were down by about 800, but there were more than 326 new exhibitors.
Star MacGregor, fair committee chair, said all the exhibitors, young or old, pay an exhibitor’s fee that gives them entry to the fair on all three days and those totals are kept separate from ticket revenue.
“I was very pleased we had new exhibitors and pleased that families with two, four or more kids were exhibiting,” she says. “It’s wonderful to see younger people entering with their families, starting the tradition.”
MacGregor was also thrilled with the numbers and dedication of the fair volunteers, which she says are countless, because each division has its own volunteers.
“We probably had 75 people just on the gates but we can’t give a clear number,” she said. “We’re asking them (conveners) to give us a report of how many volunteer hours they have put in.”
MacGregor heard many positive comments about the parade and Shooting Star Midway and said the worst incident at the fair was at the first aid stations where Band-Aids were handed out for blisters.
MacGregor offered kudos to this year’s fair co-ordinator, Debbie Evans, who brought in some new family- friendly attractions such as a straw maze, gold panning and an opportunity for little folks to hold live chicks.
“We think we had a successful fair.”
“I’m one tired person with no voice,” croaked Evans, taking the phone from MacGregor. “I went around the grounds asking people what did they enjoy and what could we improve, and they couldn’t tell me anything (to improve).”
Evans says some of the commercial vendors had difficulty selling their products, but pointed out that many families have just laid out sizeable amounts of money getting their kids ready for school.
As well, she said unique items not available locally seemed to sell well and that overall, success depended on product and pricing.
“There was a challenge getting vendors in but by changing our entertainment, we had people coming (into the arena) at 10 p.m.,” she says.
“Lori and Gil Risling put together a solid program that kept people here.”
Evans acknowledges that the short shows put on by the Thundering Impact horse drill team were a result of miscommunication.
“They were supposed to perform between horse shows and they just came from the PNE where they did that,” said Evans, noting team members were not aware they could have more time in the ring. “They said if they ever come back they’ll do longer performances.”
Evans suspects Saturday numbers may have been down because of the heat and that many folks might have opted for the beach.
“The worst critic of the fair right now is the person you’re talking to,” she said of her attempts to assess what worked and what didn’t. “I put my heart and soul into this and I should know what went well. I am as open as a sponge.”