Stephen Kass

Stephen Kass

Annual Nanaimo fair offers affordable entertainment

NANAIMO – Vancouver Island Exhibition celebrates 122 years of agricultural displays.

An annual summertime event is set to return to Nanaimo this weekend.

The 122nd annual Vancouver Island Exhibition, better known as VIEX, is scheduled to take place Friday through Sunday (Aug. 19-21) at Beban Park.

Stephen Kass, treasurer and media liaison for VIEX, said the exhibition is a fun and affordable way for families to spend quality time together.

“It’s a great day’s entertainment for a reasonable amount of costs,” he said. “We try to balance cost and all the activities and a lot of the events are all free for families.”

This year’s VIEX events and activities include celebrity goat milking, pro wrestling, a tractor pull competition, a pet show, a haunted house, carnival rides and more. There will also be variety of farm animals on display.

“This year we have a lot of fun activities for all age groups,” Kass said. “Everyone will have the opportunity to see something and do something and I think it will be a fun-filled, packed day.”

One of the main attractions to the event is the entertainment, which this year includes musical performances by Michelle Wright, Deep Sea Gypsies, Dark Horse, Age of Electric, Wide Mouth Mason, Malahat and Ian Perry.

New to the festival is freestyle progression, an attraction where individuals can jump off a six- or nine-metre-high spring board and land on an inflatable pad.

The community stage at VIEX this year will also feature dancing and performances from various First Nations, ethnic groups and organizations. Kass said that 30 years ago, very few multicultural groups would have been seen at VIEX.

“That is just an indication of how our community is changing,” he said.

Over the course of 122 years, it can be challenging to find new events and attractions to keep people coming back, according to Kass, who said as Nanaimo becomes more urban, the exhibition’s events tend to become more modern.

“We find that we have a little less to do with animals and that per se, even though it is a very strong component of our agriculture event, but a lot more of our activities are a lot more modern,” he said, adding it’s important that the exhibition never forget its original purpose.

“You do want to bring new fresh ideas in, but we don’t want to lose focus of what we are all about, which is educating our community about agriculture.”