Linda Underwood

Linda Underwood

All roads lead to Armstrong fair

An enthusiastic crowd is expected as the 114th Interior Provincial Exhibition in Armstrong begins at 10 a.m. today and runs until Sunday.

The gates are ready to burst.

An enthusiastic crowd is expected as the 114th Interior Provincial Exhibition in Armstrong begins at 10 a.m. today and runs until Sunday.

“I love getting the event going. It’s show time,” said Bryan Burns, general manager.

“It’s time to get everyone from the Okanagan and across B.C. to the great town of Armstrong.”

Perhaps the busiest day associated with the IPE is the Tuesday before the fun officially starts as residents drop off their entries, animals are moved into stalls and midway rides are set up.

“We’re making sure everything looks right,” said Burns as he cruised the fairgrounds in a golf cart.

But things don’t always go as planned, particularly when livestock is involved.

“I’m excited I’m not getting bit,” said Linda Underwood, of Spallumcheen, as she struggled to hang on to Waldo the goose between her truck and the poultry barn.

Nadia Devos, 11, was left trying to coax Echo into the shower room in the cattle barn.

“He doesn’t like baths,” said Devos, a member of the Deep Creek 4-H Club.

Colton Reid, 11, of Armstrong 4-H, had to give up on brushing as BLT, his six-month-old pig, refused to sit still and knocked over his feed bowl.

“I had thought about naming him Lemon because sometimes he is a little sour,” said Reid.

For many local families, the IPE is a tradition that has spanned the generations.

“My dad used to run this section and I kept going with it,” said Ian McKechnie, a Spallumcheen farmer who volunteers in the seed, grain and hay division.

Surrounded by his children, McKechnie says he looks forward to the fair.

“It’s the only time I get to see some people,” he said.

About 2,000   entries have been received for everything from fruits and vegetables to crafts and baking.

Among the entries are flower arrangements from  James, eight, and Ciarra, 10, Huston, of Lumby,

“Next year, we’re going to enter tomatoes,” said Ciarra.

“It will be an experience to get ribbons.”

An army of volunteers is needed to make the IPE a success and joining the ranks this year is Mekaila McManaman, 12, of Vernon.

But when she’s not helping out, McManaman will be checking out the action.

“I like the Zipper ride because it’s really fun,” she said.

“I like looking at the horses too.”

For Underwood, the IPE is a vital link between people and agriculture.

“It’s important for people to see the different animals,” she said while getting Waldo the goose settled into his cage.

Last year’s attendance was 150,170 and a similar crowd is anticipated this year.

For more information about the Interior Provincial Exhibition and the event schedule, go to www.armstrongipe.com.