A staggering 158,238 people passed through the gates during the 116th annual Interior Provincial Exhibition over five days, up from 147,932 in 2014.
“I believe that’s the second biggest one ever,” said Bryan Burns, general manager. “It’s one of the best years I’ve seen.”
The busiest days were 50,406 people Saturday and 38,673 Sunday. Burns says attendance swelled partly because of the range of activities, but also because it wasn’t too hot and only rained briefly.
“There was great weather and for a large outdoor event, weather is critical.”
Fair-goers came from throughout the province, with the bulk of them from right here in the Okanagan-Shuswap.
“I love seeing people with huge smiles,” said Burns. “There is so much to see and do. To have something like this in the valley is massive. There is nothing else like this in the province.”
Among the most popular aspects of the fair were the livestock and agricultural displays, the rodeo, the midway and the wide range of food booths. Feedback was positive, including from two Kidsworld entertainers at the IPE for the first time.
“They were saying, “By far this is the best fair we’ve been to. People are so friendly,’” said Burns.
None of it could have been pulled off without the hard work and commitment of 450 volunteers.
“It’s incredible the amount of hours they put in,” said Burns. “Some take a week off of work to be here and they put in 18 hours a day. They do it all for the benefit of the fair.”
Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP reported no major problems with the fair.
“From our point of view, the IPE was a big success,” said Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP Const. Jocelyn Noseworthy.
Planning for the 2016 IPE is now underway and one of the areas under scrutiny is how to improve parking.
“We already have some great ideas for next year,” said Burns, adding that an airplane soared over the fairground to take photos of parking and any possible challenges. “We will look at the pictures and see where people were.”