The darkest clouds hovering over the 2013 Vancouver Island Exhibition arrived with rain Friday and Saturday morning, which cleared up by the afternoon and did little to curtail attendance.
Don Boyd, VIEX president, guesses fair attendance was about 20,000 for the weekend.
“I think we’re pretty excitedly happy with the attendance,” Boyd said. “Friday was a little down, but Saturday and Sunday was fantastic.”
Aside from a couple of reports of items going missing on the fair grounds and garbage infractions, few if any minor incidents marred the weekend’s festivities.
“It was more the appreciation of the artists and the music,” Boyd said. “People just got into it right off the bat, which was really neat. Every artist felt right at home. Every artist that came here felt loved, which is cool. That’s good on Nanaimo.”
Boyd said anyone who missed The Trews’s headlining performance missed a sweet show.
“You picture the albums and the songs on the radio and that’s what you got,” Boyd said. “With a crap load of energy.”
The fair wasn’t all about on stage entertainment. Horticulture and agriculture – the foundation of Nanaimo’s premier country fair – held fascination and excitement for visitors, too. The home arts section even bestowed a moment of glory on Boyd’s family.
“My father-in-law, Malcom Leggot, won the best blackberries,” Boyd said. “He’s an agriculturist. He’s 82 years old. First prize. They were massive. The size of a toonie.”
Tundra, the wolf dog, drew crowds to the community stage, plus the international logger sports and barrel racing provided plenty of competitive action through the weekend.
Boyd offered up a special thanks to all the volunteers, sponsors and media outlets that help make the fair happen each year and he’s already looking forward to putting together VIEX 2014, which will be the 120th year of the VIEX.
“Make sure you tell all your friends to come to 120,” Boyd said. “Next year’s the 120th year of the VIEX. We want to keep this going for 120, 121, 122. We lose a lot of things if we don’t use them and there’s not a lot of things that are 120 years old.”