Smiles were wide following the 120th Salmon Arm Fair.
“We had a lot to crow about and I think we did a good job at crowing,” said fair committee co-chair Star MacGregor on Monday. “”We were up on Friday, down slightly Saturday after the parade and the rain, but Sunday made it up.”
MacGregor says the “$5 before 5 p.m.” deal on Friday that gave fair-goers access to the event for the rest of the evening was very popular and the likely reason more people went through the gates.
Steven DeBoer, vice-president of the Salmon Arm and Shuswap Lake Agricultural Association and co-chair of the fair, has the numbers.
He reports that a total of 11,535 people passed through the gates over the three days of the fair.
“in terms of total attendance, Saturday always gets gets the highest number but it was down 800 admissions because of rain ,” he says, noting organizers believe that many no-shows made up their minds in the morning when the rainfall was heaviest. “But it was made up by a really great Sunday, it was one of the best we’ve ever had and it made up almost all the attendance we lost.”
Friday’s attendance was up by 200 to 2,250 and Sunday was up by about 500 to 2,500 fair-goers.
” We would have liked for a better Saturday, but we loved all the community participation,” DeBoer says, thanking the more than 200 volunteers that make the fair possible, including himself. “I don’t think they give me a choice; they say ‘Hey Steve, you’re helping out again, yeah, OK.’”
While there was no increase in the number of exhibitors in the arena, those who participated entered more items.
“Families were coming in with several things, some competing against each other, while other family members just did different things and compared the money they won,” she laughed. “People seemed to be very happy with things and it was fun hearing that.”
As she paid out prize money on Sunday, MacGregor was also happy to hear excited exhibitors already making plans for next year’s fair.
”I think our entertainment was again top-notch, thanks to Lori and Gill (Risling), they do a fantastic job,”she said, pointing out the new Super Dogs performance and the Laughing Logger were fun and popular attractions.
Back after a couple of years, the lawn mower races scored another hit on Saturday.
“They’ve been gone for a couple of years so it was nice to have them back.”
MacGregor says that except for open goat and sheep categories, 4H gets the credit for most of the livestock at the fair.
“There was no open horse show; if we don’t have a convener, we don’t have enough volunteers to step forward with the expertise,” MacGregor says,
pleased that a couple of people have said they’ll lend a hand next year.
“Several people remarked about the quality and that’s true,” she said of the variety of entries displayed in the arena. “We have people who care about what they do, they’re showcasing their best and their best is of extremely high quality.”
MacGregor offered congratulations to seemingly perennial Premier Exhibitor Award-winner Norma Harrisch.
The premier division is open to individuals who enter at least four of the 10 categories, which include arts and crafts, baking, canning, honey, photography, textile and needle arts, field crops, flowers, fruits and vegetables.
“What Norma said was ‘anyone can do it; anyone can plan to do some baking, canning or art work. Just do what you’re doing anyway and bring the things to the fair.’”
Parade co-ordinator Maryann Brock was equally pleased with this year’s event and community participation.
She says that despite the rain and soggy lists that made reading difficult and directions somewhat muddled, Rotarians and the parade, once it rolled out, were “awesome.”
“We had some really good entries; a lot of people put a lot of effort into their floats this year,” she said of the 80-plus vehicles entered by 62 organizations. “Nobody complained about the rain because everyone knew we needed it so badly; it was great and lots of people came out.”
The top winners in three categories are: Not for profit – Salmon Arm Scouts, Neskonlith First Nations Band and Shuswap Minor Lacrosse Association; Business, commercial, political – De Mille’s, Askew’s; Performing – Shriners, Just For Kicks.
Co-ordinating all the vendors this year, Heidi Bacon was also singing the fair’s praises.
“We had 57 indoor vendors, 75 per cent of whom were returning, so it was obviously profitable for them,” she said. “There were 21 outdoor vendors and 16 food vendors.”
Bacon says it is important to keep some old favourites but change things up a bit every year.
In the food court, perogy poutine, Indian food and Panzutto pizza seemed to be fan favourites.
While the rain dampened attendance somewhat on Saturday, vendors seemed happy to come back this year and make new contacts.
“I’m very happy with the turnout and variety of vendors, and everybody seemed to have a great time,” said Bacon.
Meanwhile, MacGregor says work is already underway for the 121st fair.
“The next year’s fair always begins before this one is finished as were gauging what works and doesn’t work,” she says, pointing out it may only be a three-day event, but work continues throughout the year. “We will have a fair committee meeting soon and then have a convener’s meeting and start right away again.”