The 146th annual Cowichan Exhibition is back for another exciting fair, hosting what Ex President Fred Oud calls "the tried and true with something new" Sept. 5-7. This year’s theme is Can You Dig It? and everyone can get into agriculture and all kinds of home-related arts and crafts along with a variety of wonderful shows for the entire family.
The main grounds open at 8 a.m. with the fun continuing onsite until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and closing up at 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Mellor Hall is open at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday and at 9:30 a.m. Sunday.
An enthusiastic crew of 15-20 people is getting the site ready this week.
"We actually have a group of restaurants who are providing free lunches for us every day. That’s pretty special," Oud said.
"From the perspective of the fair itself, the weather looks fantastic for the weekend so that’s great," he said. "We’re well-organized and we’re ready for the community. This year, we have some heavy horses as well. People have been asking for them."
A lot of family-pleasing events are back this year including the hand milking competition (Friday at 11 a.m.), the miniature horse show (Saturday at 10 a.m.), the zucchini races (Saturday at 2 p.m.) and the agility dogs demonstration (Sunday at 11:30 a.m.) Other big favourites like the antique tractor parades and demonstrations,
the sheep dog and duck demo, the livestock parade, the 4-H shows and the displays of various animals will also draw big crowds to the barns. Don’t miss the 4-H barbecue in the beef ring Saturday at 5 p.m. Inside Mellor Hall, there are divisions for everything from jam to gardening hats and competition is keen.
Oud said they’ll be continuing to separate the junior level hobbies and crafts.
"Last year, we moved them into their own section so the kids could go there and check it out. That turned out to be a huge success so we’ve done that again," he said.
When you add in the chance to enjoy traditional fairground food from a variety of booths, it means there’s a lot to like at the Ex. But wait, there’s more.
According to Cow Ex executive director Shari Paterson, foosball – human style – is coming to the fair this year.
"We’ve made a foosball court out of hay bales but we have human players instead of wooden sticks. Each team of six will compete to win the first-ever tournament at the Cowichan Exhibition," she said. "It will be running throughout the weekend."
Teams can still sign up to join the fun so check it out.
Organizers have lined up three days of great entertainment, both on the main stage and roving around the fair site.
Friday, fairgoers can enjoy mainstage shows starting at 3 p.m. and ending with The Culprits from 8 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. On Saturday, it all heats up earlier onstage, starting with dancing demos at 11:30 a.m. and progressing through many local performers to finish with a fun show featuring Zachary Stevenson and the Smashed Hits in the songs of the Everly Brothers, Elvis and, of course, Buddy Holly.
On Sunday, the entertainment winds up with the annual pet show starting at 1 p.m. For those who need a ride on site, look for the Cow Ex-Press, offered as a way to "moove" you around the exhibition grounds.
Of course, what would any fair be without a colourful midway and West Coast Amusements are back starting at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4 and running daily through to Sunday, Sept. 7, with special prices on Thursday and Sunday.
Fair admission is $23 for a threeday pass or $10 daily for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for youth and free for children six and under.
Dogs are not permitted on the premises unless in competition.