The lights of the midway glow on opening night of the interior Provincial Exhibition Wednesday in Armstrong.

The lights of the midway glow on opening night of the interior Provincial Exhibition Wednesday in Armstrong.

Enthusiastic crowd flocks to IPE

A total of 15,921 people passed through the gate Wednesday

It may have been the calm before the storm, but  opening day was still steady at the Interior Provincial Exhibition.

A total of 15,921 people passed through the gate Wednesday.

“It was a pretty typical day,” said Bryan Burns, general manager, adding that attendance for opening day in 2012 was 16,320.

It’s anticipated that crowds will build over the next few days as locals and visitors check out the action before the Armstrong fair wraps up Sunday.

“Saturday is always our busiest day and Sunday and Friday jockey for second place,” said Burns.

Last year’s overall attendance was 150,170 and a similar crowd is anticipated for the five days this year.

One challenge has been rain both Wednesday and Thursday.

“We are an outdoor event but there are lots of barns and exhibits to explore,” said Burns, adding that the showers ended Wednesday morning and the blue sky returned.

“It’s beautiful fair weather when it’s mild and not so hot.”

While Wednesday was seniors day, there was a good mix of ages.

“I saw a lot of families wandering around,” said Burns.

Opening day also saw the release of 100 white doves  to mark Armstrong’s centennial as a municipality.

“It was very cool,” said Burns of the ceremony.

While many IPE traditions are in the same spot year after year, not everything is staying put.

All horticulture, flower and craft exhibits are under the same roof at the Nor-Val Sports Centre.

“There’s been some great feedback about this change,” said Burns.

The Wrangler Rodeo Tour Finale also got off to a strong start Wednesday and it takes  place every evening at 8 p.m. at the grandstand.

“It’s great action under the lights. It’s very exciting to see,” said Burns.

Access into downtown Armstrong will be very limited Saturday during the IPE parade, which starts at 10 a.m.

Visitors and residents are asked to be in town before the road closures begin at 9:30 a.m. or to take alternate routes using Pleasant Valley, Otter Lake Cross or Lansdowne roads.

The viewing area for the parade is along Pleasant Valley Road beginning at Memorial Park to the corner of Smith Drive continuing on to Rosedale Avenue.