Sadie Bishop, a Vancouver Island Exhibition volunteer, sweeps out the 4-H Barn on Wednesday morning in preparation for the arrival of animals later in the day. The VIEX celebrates its 125th year this weekend. (CHRIS BUSH/THE NEWS BULLETIN)

VIEX all set for 125th anniversary fair

Vancouver Island Exhibition taking place at Nanaimo’s Beban Park from Aug. 23-25

VIEX organizers are ready and raring to go, and all that’s needed now are fair-goers.

The Vancouver Island Exhibition goes Friday through Sunday, Aug. 23-25, at Nanaimo’s Beban Park fairgrounds.

Lynn Haley, VIEX president, said preparations have gone well.

“Absolutely,” she said. “We’ve been here every day and I think we’re almost ahead of schedule this year. Lots of volunteers. It’s been great.”

The VIEX is celebrating a milestone 125th anniversary this year, and want to recognize that in bringing together the fair’s past and present in appealing ways.

“We wanted to make sure that we had some good attractions for the 125th anniversary…” Haley said. “[And] you’ll see some decorations that will be around, we’ve got a great big birthday cake that we’ve built and we’ve tried to find some activities from days gone by.”

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As an example, there will be a ‘husband-calling’ contest, the VIEX’s take on an old country fair favourite.

“In fairs they used to have hog calling, where the farmers would go and call the hog, so we just took a bit of a twist on that,” Haley said. “If anybody wants to sign up for that, they get rated in different categories and you win a trophy for whoever can get their husband to come running the fastest.”

The main attractions this year will be the entertainment headliners. Rock band Moist, known for ’90s hit songs Push and Silver, are Friday’s final act. Country artist Meghan Patrick gets top billing on Saturday and children’s entertainers the Kerplunks perform two shows Sunday.

West Coast Amusements is back to put on the fair’s midway, and have brought their new Frenzy ride.

The Laughing Logger lumberjack exhibition returns, as does the Mid-Island Vintage Tractor and Equipment Club. There are horse shows every day, with the Canadian Horse Classic Show and the V.I. Rhythm Riders drill team on Friday, the Light Horse Show on Saturday, and mini horses, the Stellar Steppers equestrian drill team and the ManeStream Vaulters on Sunday. Pure Wrestling Association will have shows every day and Global FMX Motocross will perform tricks on Saturday and Sunday.

The McDonald’s Family Fun Zone has been expanded this year, there’s an outdoor pub, livestock barns, gold panning, goat milking demonstrations and more.

Earlier this summer the VIEX had been victimized by repeated wire thefts that were hard for the non-profit society to sustain, but no more thefts have happened since then.

“Since the last theft we had back in July, we’ve had a tremendous amount of support from the community and volunteers that were doing security every night,” Haley said. “We were able to fix all the barns and all the wiring’s been replaced and we’ve had no thefts since we’ve done that.”

She said board members have worked “tons of hours,” volunteer numbers are up and it’s shaping up to be a great weekend.

“Come out and enjoy the fair,” Haley said. “We hope to see everybody here and support our 125th year.”

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