Photo by ASHLI BARRETT/Advocate Staff

Westerner a real pleaser

Westerner Days Fair and Exposition is unlikely to go into the books as a record breaker but organizers and vendors were pleased with this year’s version.

Westerner Days Fair and Exposition is unlikely to go into the books as a record breaker but organizers and vendors were pleased with this year’s version.

“It was fairly good,” said Colin Branner, who runs My Antique Portrait with his wife Carol.

“It was steady enough that I couldn’t get around to see all of the grounds,” said Branner on Sunday as a couple were having the picture taken in old-fashioned western clothing.

It wouldn’t be a fair without candy apples and cotton candy and providing them was Corey Austin’s job at his prime spot at the top of the Grub Hub.

It was Austin’s third year at the fair.

“It went pretty good. The weather was better than last year,” he said.

On Saturday last year a massive storm blew in forcing Westerner organizers to shut down the fair early that day. It wasn’t as dramatic this past Saturday, but steady afternoon rain kept the crowds away.

“(The weather) wasn’t great, but what can you do?”

Wrap Daddy’s Mike Morter was also making his third appearance this year from his home base in Kelowna.

“It was a good, solid crowd,” he said, adding many didn’t let the rain stop them. “When it rained they stuck it out.”

Morter said he’ll be back next year with his wraps, which included popular gluten-free and caesar salad versions.

Westerner marketing manager Erin Gobolos said the weather was unco-operative this year.

“But that’s something we can’t control. Overall, everything else went really, really well.”

Especially popular among music lovers was the decision to not charge extra for the big concerts, which featured rising Canadian rockers The Sheepdogs, country sensations Brett Kissel and Tim Hicks, as well as retro favorites Diamond Rio, Harlequin and Honeymoon Suite.

“Everything we heard was super positive. People were actually shocked. They were quite happy when they found out it was free (with admission),” she said.

It’s an experiment that will likely be continued next year.

“Overall, the concerts did really well this year. We were really pleased with how they turned out.”

Other new entertainers such as the All About Science show and speed painter Dave Sharp were popular.

“And of course, the Super Dogs are always a huge hit.”

Gobolos said given the weather challenge, it is unlikely they will break the overall attendance record.

“Our goal at this point is to beat our 2013 record, which is actually our second highest year.”

Overall attendance for the five-day event was 95,488 last year, down 7,177 from the 2012 record-breaking total of 102,665.

On Saturday, 20,531 were counted, well short of the record 26,825 who passed through the gates in 2011.

Final results will be available on Monday afternoon.

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