This article is from the August 2016 Issue of Forever Young

 FYng August 2016 Feature Image

By Glenna Turnbull

From barn dances to bake offs, rodeos to midway rides, we all have our own favourite reasons for going to the Interior Provincial Exhibition and Stampede (IPE) and while those reasons might change as we age, the one thing that has remained consistent throughout the years is the how the fair gives back to the community. As a registered non-profit charity, the IPE will help generate more than $8 million for the local economy this year.

Bryan Burns, who has been general manager of the IPE for the past nine summers, noted that in order to make the event run smoothly, the staff of 125 will be augmented by more than 450 volunteers, giving close to 11,000 hours of their time. And that’s not including the 38 different service clubs who will also benefit from the fair.

“Last year we had 158,238 pass through the gates – it was the second largest attendance record ever,” said Burns, and it’s hoped that if weather cooperates, this year will do even better.

Over the past seven years, from the funds generated through gate receipts, etc., the IPE has been able to hand out more than $35,000 in direct contributions to a charity of its choice, which has ranged from Okanagan Autism to the Vernon Hospice as well as the MS Society, Huntington’s, Prostate Cancer and more. This year’s recipient will be NONA of Vernon. In addition, it has provided more than $14,000 in IPE scholarships and invested over $430,000 in Armstrong/Spallumcheen Parks and Recreation and the IPE Fairgrounds.

For many local non-profit groups and organizations, the IPE offers them an opportunity to earn the lion’s share of their annual operating costs. “We have a lot of groups who come in to do food booths such as the churches,” said Burns who estimated the local Catholic church alone will have well over 100 volunteers working at the fair.


For other groups, such as the Vernon Army Cadets, the organizations earn revenue on a contract basis but the actual people you see doing the jobs at the fair are doing so as volunteers. “We have the cadets doing garbage pick up, the high school rodeo group does the clean up in the food area and a church group assigned to do washroom clean up” said Burns, listing but a few.

One of the non-profit groups that fill a big niche at the fair is the local Kin Club, which is responsible for the liquor sales at the curling rink as well as the beer gardens. Marty Randall is co-chair of the Armstrong Kin Club’s IPE committee as well as treasurer for the club and he noted that for them, “This is our biggest fundraiser of the year.”

Randall said, the Kin Club is hoping that running the liquor sales will raise the $24,000 they’ve budgeted to donate back to the community over the next year. In previous years the Kin Club has generated enough to help with some major local projects, such as donating $16,000 towards the creation of a skate park. They also use the funds for regular ongoing needs of the community, “things like the food bank and the hospital,” he said.

“We have a list of some 25 different annual events we contribute to,” noted Randall, and in order for the Kin Club to do this, it will once again comes down to the army of volunteers they can recruit. With 17 members, Randall estimates they will need an additional 30 more people to help them keep thirsty patrons satisfied during the run of the fair. It’s a big job but Randall said, “We have a lot of fun doing it.”

This year’s IPE theme is Bushels of Fun for Everyone, a slogan designed to highlight the agricultural roots of the fair. Chad Martin is the leader of the Field and Seed Department of the IPE and said, “Every year a different department gets featured and this year it’s our turn.”

Local farmers will be entering their best grains, then an agronomist will do the judging based on the official rule book for guidelines. Everything from the size and shape of the kernels to the sheath will come under scrutiny before prizes get awarded for first, second and third place in the various categories. Martin said, “There will be about 70 entries in some 40 or more different types of classes.”

When running a fair for 117 years, in order to keep it fresh and keep people coming back, the IPE staff is always adding new things. This year, Burns said, people can watch for new vendors, new entertainment at the Ram Truck Stage and at the Kids World area as well. You can also meet the new general manager who is taking Burns’ place, Yvonne Paulson.

Paulson officially takes the reigns August 2, just a few short weeks from the gates opening. With a background of experience including the Calgary Stampede, National Finals Rodeo and the World Professional Chuck Wagon Association, she’ll be jumping in right at the final turn before the gates open and is quoted as saying, “I’m not afraid to pick up the pitchfork.”

Whether you head to the fair to watch cowboys get bucked in the ring, to let your children go spinning on rides or want to take in the live music, if you remember where the gate fee is going, or think about the group you’re supporting by buying a beer or a burger, it might just give you one more reason to smile.

Admission is $17 for a single day pass, $40 for a three day pass, or $70 to take in all five days. Seniors 85 and older are free. Family passes (which includes two adults and up to four kids ages 12 and under) offer the best deal at $35 for one day, $80 for three day or $140 for the full five days. Rodeo fees are $12 on Wednesday and Thursday or $15 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with reserved seating, for sale in the IPE grounds. Miss Rodeo Canada will be making an appearance at the fair as well.

This year the IPE runs from Aug. 31 to Sept. 4. Gates open at 7:30 a.m. each morning until 9 p.m. each night. Once you’re through the gates, the midway stays open later and you can buy a ride bracelet for $45. Parking day rates are $8.

You can find all the information you’ll need online at