The biggest show in the North Okanagan is officially a go.
The gates open on the 115th Interior Provincial Exhibition today and the Armstrong fair is expected to draw huge crowds until Sunday.
“Things are shaping up,” said Bryan Burns, general manager.
In 2013, 149,782 people attended the fair, and a similar figure could be reached this year if sun shines for the five days.
Burns believes people flock to the fair for a number of reasons.
“With 1,949 exhibitors with more than 7,000 entries this year, the enormous variety at the IPE has something for everyone in your family,” he said.
And the magnitude of that variety was evident as local residents dropped off their entries Tuesday.
Among them was 14-year-old Ethan Conner, of Spallumcheen, who has turned a pumpkin into a horticultural creature.
“I used my imagination,” he said of the character that includes apple eyes, a pumpkin stem for a nose and peacock feathers for a main.
A few aisles over, Rob Aylard, from Mara, was making sure his gladiolus are the best in show.
He was inspired to enter his flowers for the first time because his mother, Ruth, Aylard, has participated for years.
“It will be a fun competition with her,” he said.
Nine-year-old Deni Corrigan, of Armstrong, spent about 12 hours working on the wind chime she has hanging on display.
“I like working with beads,” she said.
“I did a theme with the ocean and butterflies.”
The IPE is celebrating 100 years of 4-H and the youth organization is well represented in a number of categories, including swine, sheep, horses and cattle.
Nine-year-old Zoe Hamming, of Vernon, has been busy taking care of Darla since the cow was born March 3.
“I walk her, wash her, feed her and clip her,” said Hamming, a member of the Shuswap 4-H Club.
“It wasn’t too hard.”
For those looking for some excitement, the West Coast Midway is back with more than 30 rides.
“We have lots of new and exciting fun for the whole family — from the addition of Farm Quest and the always new and exciting Valley First Kids Klub, which has moved to an all new expanded area,” said Burns.
The grandstand will also be the place to be for the nightly Wrangler Tour Rodeo.
“You will want to check out one of the best rodeos in North America,” said Burns, adding that capacity crowds are anticipated.
“Don’t miss this exhilarating sports action.”
The IPE includes more than 200 vendors in the various commercial areas and there is also plenty to tantalize the taste buds of all varieties.
“With all of your favourite fair foods, come and experience all of the great choices,” said Burns.
And if you are in Armstrong Saturday, make sure you take time out for the annual IPE parade, which is organized by the Armstrong-Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce.
“More than 100 entries will line the streets in the traditional Saturday 10 a.m. spectacle,” said Burns.
With so much happening, an army of people is needed behind the scenes and most of them are volunteers.
For local resident Leanna Thiessen, preparing exhibits in the horticultural section has become a family tradition she looks forward to.
“My dad volunteers here and my aunt runs it,” she said.
“Farming is in the blood and it’s fun helping at the fair.”
For more information, go to www.armstrongipe.com or check out the IPE’s Facebook page.