The Royal Manitoba Winter Fair saw close to 109,000 visits this week, according to a preliminary tally.The Winter Fair wrapped up on Saturday night and the Keystone Centre’s transition from an agricultural showcase started that same night.
This was the first Winter Fair for Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba general manager Rob O’Connor, and he already has his sights set for the future of the event, including inviting the public to attend on Sunday prior to the opening on Monday.
"We don’t really promote those events to the public," he said.
To fit everything into the six-day event, some participants begin competition a day early.
"We go to the work of putting these events on for the exhibitors, but we never really invite the public, so we’ll probably look at the opportunity to make that day a little more friendly for the visitors.
"There will be things that we’ll discuss in our wrap-up meetings with staff and volunteers about how the event ran."
More than 250 volunteers help put on the event and O’Connor was impressed with how smoothly the fair ran.
"It’s just amazing the ownership these volunteers have with this event, they really take it and make it their own," he said. "They really do something special.
"I was really excited, this being my first Royal Manitoba Winter Fair, I was certainly anticipating a great event and certainly the volunteers who did work on this did a fantastic job."
Tom Lane of Birtle took home the Kubota Six Horse Championship on Saturday with his Creekside Belgians.
The only rider with a clean run in a jump-off, Red Deer’s Lorrie Jamieson took home the top prize at the MTS Grand Prix horse jumping competition on Saturday night.
"It was by far the toughest course that we had this week," she said.
Ten-year-old Zeno, the Dutch warmblood horse that jumped through the winning run, was imported from Holland at the age of two and has been trained by Jamieson for nearly his whole life.
"Just a wonderful, wonderful character, just tries so hard," she said.
Jamieson, who grew up in the Yukon and now calls Alberta home, first came to the Winter Fair at 15 years old, watching the Grand Prix hoping one day she would be in the ring.
"The atmosphere has always been great. I remember back then it was screaming crowds, just wonderful," she said. "Now, it’s just bigger and better than what I remember back then."
She made it to her first Grand Prix here in Brandon at the fair four years ago.
The 108th Manitoba Winter Fair is scheduled for March 30-April 4, 2015.
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