VIEX 2012 peeks at past, future

NANAIMO: An exciting glimpse of the future and a whole lot of fun in between will be offered at the Vancouver Island Exhibition.

A tantalizing taste of the past, an exciting glimpse of the future and a whole lot of fun in between will be offered at the Vancouver Island Exhibition this weekend (Aug. 17-19).

With three days of events at Beban Park that include: clowns, mainstage entertainment, sheepdog trials, pie eating contest, livestock show and home arts display, there’s something for every family member to enjoy.

“A family could easily spend the whole day at the fair,” said Lynn Haley, president of the VIEX board. “There’s something happening throughout the day and the evening entertainment is fantastic.”

As well as past favourites like the Kidzone, Mooternity ward and calf-naming contest, the fair will host a historical display of past exhibitions.

“The Nanaimo museum provided some relics from the past. We have newspaper clippings and from old farmsteads in Cedar we have items like ribbons from the 1920s. We even received artifacts from Merv Wilkinson’s place,” said Haley.

The peek into the past is part of the theme of this year’s fair: Pioneer Ways to Present Days.

It’s the start of promotion for the 120th anniversary in two years and will also showcase a drawing of the new agriculture education centre planned to replace four existing barns.

There will also be a Remote Control Rally with racetrack, jumps and displays, a husband and wife magic act called Que Bola and for the adventurous, there are the Crazy Balls.

“A huge beach ball is in a 40-foot pool. You climb in the ball and move around the water,” said Haley. “It’s like being a hamster in one of those rolling balls.”

The entertainment lineup presents a variety of performers opening with Order of Canada inductee, Valdy, and including best new Canadian country artist of the year nominee, Dallas Smith.

“There’s a real flow to this years entertainment,” said Don Boyd, main stage director.  “We’ve got a lot of up and coming new artists like 17-year-old Hope King, Braeden Marshall and The Royal Canadians and then we wrap up the entertainment on Sunday afternoon with a tribute to Etta James.”

The fair wouldn’t be complete without the Midway and owner Brenda Mediera of Shooting Star Amusements said for the adventurous, there’s a new ride in town.

The Kamikaze is a 19-metre spinning, scissoring, hanging-upside-down-adrenaline rush with sound effects, speed and jaw-dropping acceleration.

It fits 32 people and swings like a pendulum moving backward and forward and then turning a full circle.

“It begins in silence and then as you speed up, it starts this eerie whirring. It’s really scary,” said Mediera.

Over the years, the fair has seen many changes in entertainment from wartime military displays to lemon-slicing contests and the musical ride, but what’s stayed the same is the reason people come to the fair.

“People want a taste of the country,” said Haley. “It’s a chance for kids to reconnect with where their food comes from as well as enjoy an inexpensive day out with family or friends.”

Whether it’s for the exhibits, entertainment or gravity-defying rides, fair organizers are hoping to top last year’s attendance of 27,000.

In 2009, the event was evaluated as Top Fair in B.C. with attendance over 20,000. The goal is to keep that number growing.

Admission is $11; $8/youth 13-18; $4/7-12; and children under six are free.

Seniors 65 and older and special needs people get to see the fair for $4 with caregivers getting in for free.

A three-day pass purchased on Friday is $22.

For a full entertainment line up and contest schedule, please go to www.viex.ca.