VIEX country fair offers fun for the whole family

Vancouver Island Exhibition annual country fair offers a weekend of family fun.

Agriculture, rock ‘n’ roll and family fun collide during the Vancouver Island Exhibition’s annual country fair.

This year’s event, Aug. 19-21, promises “Fun for the Whole Herd”.

Lynn Haley, VIEX president, said the fair offers something for every member of the family to enjoy, including main stage entertainment, commercial expo, skateboarding competition, roller derby display, agricultural demonstrations and more.

Haley said the VIEX is moving more toward an entertainment fair, but it hasn’t strayed far from its roots and mission of raising awareness about agriculture.

“Each year the entertainment is a huge draw,” she said.

This year residents can jump into the fun one day early as the exhibition opens for a special limited evening of entertainment Thursday (Aug. 18) on the Community Festival Stage from 5:30-9 p.m. People can watch various entertainers, the preliminary round of the songbird competition and enjoy fair rides from Shooting Star Midway.

Admission is by donation of either cash or food for the Nanaimo Loaves and Fishes Food Bank.

People can also expect to enjoy traditional favourites such as main stage entertainment, the Commercial Expo, vintage tractor club displays and amusement rides.

This year’s entertainment lineup on the main stage features a variety of performers including Bobs and Lolo, Atlas Collapses, Braeden Marshall Prism, The Kerplunks and Big River. Fair organizers strive to bring in local entertainers every year.

Don Boyd, main stage director, said he’s excited about this year’s Friday and Saturday entertainment lineups.

“We wanted to raise the bar as far as bringing in artists that are more established,” he said. “It adds to the entertainment value.”

Boyd said Aaron Lines, who performs Friday evening, is sure to draw a crowd.

“He’s the most played Canadian country artist in the last 10 years. He’s probably the biggest country artist we’ve had,” said Boyd.

There are performers for everyone’s taste from country to rock to children’s entertainers, he said, adding it brings a different dynamic to the day as it progresses.

“It adds to the whole flavour, to the atmosphere of the event,” said Boyd.

The Commercial Expo, located in Cliff McNabb Arena, features about 30 exhibitors showcasing their wares and services. It runs Friday and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

New this year is the Garden City Cat Club Display.

The club is hosting a cat show and spectators can watch cat championships where furry felines compete for top spot in four to seven rings before a panel of judges. The competitors will amass points to win the title of supreme champion. The event takes place in the Little Red Barn and includes educational materials, cat supplies and a junior activity centre.

On Saturday, people can watch the Harbour City Roller Derby Girls compete and participate in the Alternative Groove Skateboarding Competition in Frank Crane Arena.

“Come out and enjoy everything. We are going to have a great year,” said Haley.

Admission per day is $4 for ages seven to 12, $7 for ages 13-18, $10 for adults and $3.50 for seniors or people can purchase a three day pass for $20. Festival gates open daily from Friday to Sunday at 9 a.m.

For more information and an entertainment schedule, please go to