Two-year-old Gracey Decorby of Grindrod tries her hand at milking a demonstration cow at the IPE in Armstrong.

Two-year-old Gracey Decorby of Grindrod tries her hand at milking a demonstration cow at the IPE in Armstrong.

‘Bar none, this is the best fair’

By the time the gates closed Sunday, 149,782 people had attended the Armstrong fair over the five days

The 114th annual Interior Provincial Exhibition is a wrap.

By the time the gates closed Sunday, 149,782 people had attended the Armstrong fair over the five days.

“We had great crowds,” said Bryan Burns, general manager.

There were 150,170 at the fair in 2012, and the slight drop this year is related to rain Thursday.

The busiest day was Saturday with 49,182 people, followed by 39,789 Sunday, 28,785 Friday, 16,105 Thursday and 15,921 Wednesday.

“The highlight was the people who come back year after year,” said Burns, adding, though, that there were also a lot of new faces walking the grounds.

“I talked to Miss Rodeo Canada and this was her first time here. She said, ‘Bar none, this is the best fair I’ve been to all year.’”

Steady crowds checked out the exhibits, including livestock, horticulture, crafts and baking. The commercial booths also proved popular.

“People loved the rodeo and the lumberjack show was packed Saturday and Sunday for every show,” said Burns.

 


A 2010 study indicated that the IPE has an economic impact of about $8.8 million annually.

“It’s a huge boost to the community,” said Burns of services purchased and the visitors who come to town.

On top of this, 30 to 35 non-profit groups are involved either through running concession stands or being hired by the IPE to clean washrooms.

“Some of them make their entire fundraising revenue for the year over the five days,” said Burns.

To keep things running, there is an army of people working behind the scenes.

“There was an incredible number of hours put in by my board of directors and there were 450 to 475 volunteers and it’s incredible the hours they put in to make the fair successful,” said Burns.

With this year’s fair over, there will be a brief break before Burns gets back to work.

“I’m already planning for next year, little things like missing signs or did we have enough supplies?” he said.