Agriculture continues to be the primary focus of the Interior Provincial Exhibition. The 114th annual Armstrong fair is expected to draw a huge crowd from Wednesday to Sunday.

All systems go for Armstrong fair

The biggest show in the North Okanagan is ready to burst out of the gates.

The biggest show in the North Okanagan is ready to burst out of the gates.

Armstrong’s Interior Provincial Exhibition runs between Wednesday and Sunday and thousands of people are expected to flock to the exhibits, rides and the rodeo.

“Everything is flying high to get things done,” said Bryan Burns, general manager, of the final preparations.

Last year’s attendance was 150,170 and a similar crowd is anticipated this time around, particularly given that the IPE is a tradition for many.

“It’s one of the events people wait for at the end of summer,” said Burns, adding that  the festivities bring people together, whether it’s loved ones, friends or complete strangers.

“It’s about family here. Even with the vendors and the entertainers, there is a sense of family. There is a lot of interaction going on.”

About 2,000 exhibitors will display everything from fruits and vegetables to crafts, photographs and baking.

And then of course there is the livestock — cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, horses and more exotic critters.

For Burns, the IPE is a critical part of maintaining awareness about agriculture in an increasingly urbanized Okanagan.

“There are people who come here who have never been close to a farm animal before,” he said, adding that the displays connect them directly to their food supply at home.

“Here they can see animals and fruits and vegetables.”

Fair-goers can also have a chance to talk to the youthful members of 4-H about raising livestock.

Among the most popular draws during the fair are Saturday’s parade, the daily midway and, of course, the West Coast Lumber Jack Show.

The IPE also welcomes the Wrangler Rodeo Tour Finale, which takes place every night at 8 p.m. at the grandstand.

Attendance numbers will depend a lot on the weather, and if there are clear skies and lots of sunshine, records could be broken.

“I used to look at the forecast all of the time but it always changes,” said Burns.

“I can’t control it and if it does rain, there’s lots going on inside.”

Many of the people who will pass through the gates over the five days are right from the North Okanagan, but they will also arrive from Kelowna, the Shuswap, Kamloops and from across B.C. and Alberta.

Whether you are a regular attendee or have never been before, Burns is urging everyone to head to Armstrong for the fun.

“It’s a great way to end the summer season. There is so much to see and do,” he said.

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