Vancouver Island Exhibition organizers kicked around some ideas this year to come up with big changes for the fair, such as moving the main stage to Beban Park’s Gyro Youth Sports Field.
The move means lots more to see and do at this year’s VIEX Aug. 18-20.
“Down there will be our main stage, the wrestlers will be down there and Ribfest will be happen down there from open till close,” said Melissa Rivard, VIEX office manager.
Country music tunes up a country theme at VIEX 2017.
“We are doing country music again on the Saturday night to bring the country back into country fair,” Rivard said. “Don Boyd, our director of main stage, hand picks all our headliners and all of the music on main stage, actually.”
Canadian country trio Doc Walker is Saturday’s headliner. The band has churned out more than 20 top 10 country hits since 1997, won the 2007 Canadian Country Music Awards Album of the Year and will no doubt be playing selections from its newest album Weathervane, released in March.
Vancouver-based female country trio The Heels and country duo The County Line from Victoria round out Saturday’s lineup, following a performance by Blue Satellite with hip hop artist Sirreal.
“We have our song and dance competition on the main stage and [Sirreal] is a judge for that, so he is going to play right after the competition,” Rivard said. “Throw a little rap in with the country just to keep it fresh.”
Friday and Sunday feature rock, blues and Latin. Nine-piece Latin-American band La Familia sets Friday’s main stage tempo with salsa and merengue from Cuba, Mexico and Colombia followed by Nanaimo’s Herbicidal Maniacs and Lawn Social to prime the crowds for when headliner Led Zepagain, a Led Zeppelin tribute band, plugs in to rock out the night.
Led Zepagain, formed in Ventura, Calif., in 1988, is regarded as the world’s most authentic Led Zeppelin replication.
“They are one of the only cover bands that are backed by Robert Plant. That’s how amazing they are,” Rivard said.
Shakamoraine, with its roots in progressive rock, returns this year to kick off Sunday’s main stage performances, followed by Steely Dan tribute band Pretzel Logic Orchestra. Its nine-members represent some of Victoria’s finest jazz musicians. Iconic Canadian rock group the Odds close out the fair’s final day with their hits from the ’90s including It Falls Apart, Heterosexual Man and Someone Who’s Cool.
More VIEX 2017 highlights are happening throughout the fair grounds. The Strathcona Mounted Troop performs all three fair days, Vancouver Island Coastal Cowgirls western drill team will display their western riding skills and the star athletes of the Pure Wrestling Association are back for a fourth consecutive year.
For fairgoers craving a taste of nostalgia, A Step Back in Time will showcase activities commemorating Canada’s 150 years of confederation, or check out the Mid Island Vintage Tractor and Equipment Club antique machinery.
Folks with a need for speed can do a few laps with Notorious RC’s radio-control cars that top 100 kilometres per hour or rely on gravity for the win at the Zucchini 500 zucchini racing competition in the Kids Zone.
Meat lovers will want to check out VIEX’s inaugural Ribfest.
“Which is four 40-foot rib trucks doing ribs, chicken,” Rivard said.
And there will be not one, but two beer gardens set up.
“A 19-and-over and more of a – I want to say family-friendly – so if you want to go and sit and eat your dinner and have a drink with your dinner, we’re giving you that capability to do so,” she said.
The VIEX home show is on again this year, lots of local talent will be performing on the community main stage and the fair is hosting a show-and-shine car show Sunday.