Agrifair reports overall increase in attendance

Scorching temperatures had an impact for part of the fair, but the good weather drew the crowds at other times

Linda Clark (left) of the Abbotsford News and Agrifair general manager Pamela Brenner (right) present Amazing Race winners Team Dahlhouse

Linda Clark (left) of the Abbotsford News and Agrifair general manager Pamela Brenner (right) present Amazing Race winners Team Dahlhouse

Despite scorching temperatures that forced the midway to close for an afternoon, Agrifair enjoyed an increase in attendance.

“Even though the weather didn’t really co-operate with us this year, our attendance appears to be up over last year,” Agrifair president Ernie Silveri said.

He pointed to Sunday, Aug. 5, as an example of community support. He said the day began with a good turnout for the free Psalm 23 pancake breakfast and new youth-led gospel service, but attendance fell off drastically during the scorching afternoon heat. It was so hot even West Coast Amusements was forced to keep the midway closed through the afternoon. Yet, as the heat died down, people flocked back to the fair.

“We had our best crowd of the weekend for the Mighty Fraser Rodeo Sunday evening and a record crowd for the Starfield concert which closed Sunday’s fair,” Silveri noted.

“At the end of the day, our overall Sunday attendance was up. It clearly showed the community wants to come to the fair even if it is just for a few hours. It also proved the value of having something to entertain people no matter what part of the day or evening they come.”

This year’s rodeo competitors included most of last year’s Canadian rodeo champions. It also marked the MFR debut of announcer Al Parsons and rodeo clown JJ Harrison.

“Al’s booming voice, positive attitude and wealth of knowledge, and JJ’s family-friendly clowning added so much to this year’s rodeo. We have every intention of inviting both of them back for future rodeos,” Agrifair general manager Pamela Brenner said.

She said visitors also appreciated the new look of FunField, particularly the addition of the Crazy Balls, a hit with young and old alike.

Agriculture remains at the heart of Agrifair and this year’s newly reconfigured Agriland saw audiences take advantage of the opportunity to see farm animals up close, watch sheep shearing and regular farrier and milking demonstrations.  The 4-H program also continues to expand.

“Each year, more and more local agri-businesses are working with us to build a bigger and better 4-H show.

“They recognize how important Agrifair is as a venue for both competition and camaraderie,” Agrifair vice-president Al Philps said.

Seventeen-year-old Bailey Alexis (Rathbone) of Coquitlam used the hit song “Halo” to propel herself to victory and first place prize money of $1,500 in the fourth-annual Valley Voices competition.

In addition to the cheque from Agrifair, the prize package includes a vocal workshop with Darcy D, a session with Nuu Music Artist Management, a free photo shoot at Revival Arts Studio, a gift certificate from Long & McQuade and a three-song demo from Studio Downe Under.

Judging the competition this year were Valley Voices alumnus Victoria Duffield, now a Warner Music recording artist, Dave Faber of Mission’s Faber Drive and deejay Kenny Jones of the Sonic Nation.