The weather held and attendance at the Salmon Arm Fair was up by more than 1,000 over last year.
“It’s likely our best attendance in over a decade,” said Steven deBoer, fair committee co-chair with Phil Wright and Star McGregor.
“All week long, we were looking at the forecast and it didn’t look good,” says McGregor, noting that from the Saturday morning parade to the 5 p.m. closing on Sunday, the “121 Fun For Everyone” theme lived up to its name.
McGregor says the midway was very busy, with organizers giving fairgoers what they had asked for several years – the same midway rides as Armstrong’s IPE.
“We had lots of comments, some online and some in person, before and during the fair,” says McGregor. The midway is appealing to the younger people and it really pulls them in.”
West Coast Amusements, which operates the midway at IPE, was invited back this year after a hiatus of several years, but was required to post a security bond regarding staff performance.
“Every comment we received on conduct and staff has been positive,” says DeBoer, noting the company did write an incident report regarding a ride called The Zipper.
“The ride was in the process of loading from both sides, and so one side had more weight and the other side rose,” he says of a child who had not yet been properly secured in his seat. “The ride was not in operation. It shouldn’t have happened, the system shouldn’t have let it happen and they are investigating.”
DeBoer says the midway manager resolved the incident with the child and family involved.
Responding to complaints that members of the Dance Center and Just For Kicks had to pay admission to enter the fairgrounds, DeBoer says the decision to charge a reduced fee was in response to past abuse when parents or guardians of dancers expected to have free admission to the fair as well.
He also points out that the dance groups are paid an honorarium for their performances and were told last year they would have to pay admission this year.
But while they say they understand the association’s position, Carolyn Wonacott, owner of the Dance Center, and Just For Kicks owner Patty Fleming say they were not told last year. Both women say that while there have been some parents expecting to get in free, the majority are happy to pay admission to support the fair and the community.
McGregor, meanwhile, says the Super Dogs, lawnmower races and mini chuckwagons were the real crowd-pleasers as always. As well, she was pleased with the displays and vendors in the arena and says it seems those who submit items for judging are becoming more competitive every year.
A number of new conveners stepped up this year and are already planning on how they’re going to improve their sections next year.
“We had poultry, which was not available for six years,” she says, noting the exhibit was well-received. “We might have to find another space if she expands too much, which we will do.”
In terms of entertainment, McGregor offers high praise to Lori and Gil Risling who have organized the slate for many years and brought in world-renowned Kenny Rogers tribute performer Marty Edwards as the headliner this year.
“Lori and Gil always do a great job, with good variety,” she says.
McGregor says ideas and suggestions are always welcomed by the Salmon Arm and Shuswap Lake Agricultural Association that hosts the annual fair, but says the ideas need to be accompanied by willing conveners and volunteers.
“The real backbone of the fair is the hundreds of volunteers who put in thousands of hours,” she says offering thanks to “all sponsors large and small” for supporting the annual community event. “There’s excellent people on the job and the set-up and take-down people are incredible.”
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