JAMES O'CONNOR/BRANDON SUN
Crews work to remove bent wrecks during the Demolition Derby as the Summer Fair wrapped up Sunday.
A lousy spring gave way to a rain-free streak for the Manitoba Summer Fair, bringing Wheat City folks out in droves.
While no official attendance numbers have been released yet, Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba CEO Karen Oliver said it looks like this year’s fair drew more visitors than the 2012 edition.
"This is the first time in my memory that we’ve had five days without rain," she said. "Maybe people in Brandon were really ready to go out and have fun outdoors."
Usually the fair sees between 90,000 and 100,000 visits in a year.
Punctuating the end of a successful fair week was the rededication of Display Building No. II — also known as the Dome Building — which proved to be an emotional celebration for Oliver.
"That’s been a project I’ve been working on for about four years now, and it felt like a really big milestone, and seeing so many people who turned out to participate in the whole thing. The moment they cut the ribbon, that was kind of emotional."
Oliver said the change to a single, foot-only entrance for the fair yielded no complaints. The change was not only for logistics, but safety as well.
"We had very little feedback," she said. "Normally if something is not to people’s liking, we usually do hear about it."
The only exception, according to Oliver, was the long walk to the Dome Building for Sunday’s pancake breakfast.
"Other than that, I think it was really good and it was great for safety and we pretty much had an incident-free fair and once people catch onto it, it’ll be a real positive thing for us."
Improving the fair is an ongoing process, Oliver said, adding work starts tomorrow for next year’s fair.
"You always want to make it better with fresh ideas, and we have a couple of areas, for example, which were kind of empty and we want to make sure to put some interesting activities in there for next year."
One thing missing from this year’s fair was the jumper-hunter horse classes, a move that upset members of the Brandon Light Horse and Pony Society.
However, Oliver said she’s anxious to get the classes back next year.
"Although it’s not a part of the show that everyone sees, I think it’s still an important part of the mandate of the Provincial Ex and I don’t like to lose any parts of our show, so we’ll certainly be working on that," she said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 10, 2013