Cormier headlines entertainment; rodeo back by popular demand
Annapolis Valley Ex kicks off August 13
By Lawrence Powell
When the 81st edition of the Annapolis Valley Exhibition kicks off August 13 in Lawrencetown, patrons will be treated to all the popular events they've come to expect, a few new treats, and some new and improved seating at the Main Ring.
Exhibition manager John Longley is expecting to repeat last year's attendance figures of 45,000, a number that has been fairly consistent over the past few years. And those who attend, will get their money's worth because the entry fee at the gate covers all the entertainment and events such as the Miss Valley Ex pageant, Little Miss and Mister Ex, collie herding demonstrations, the Wild and Woolie Sheep Rodeo, ox pulls, horse pulls, and a host of other spectacles including a repeat of last year's inaugural rodeo and the ever-popular ATC competition.
J. P. Cormier headlines the entertainment line up with country favourite Aaron Pritchett, award-winning singer-songwriter Gordie Sampson, and the Annapolis Valley's own Hughie McDonnell (Shopping at Frenchy's).
But there's more entertainment than the famous headliners. Stars of tomorrow will take to the stage in the new Exhibition Idol contest that Longley said will feature about 30 rising stars throughout the week to be narrowed down to about eight contestants and finally one Idol. "It looks like a good variety of entertainment in our lineup this year which should provide something different for everybody," Longley said. "We hope our idol competition is popular among our local young people. We're hoping they will come from across the Valley."
The Miss Valley Ex pageant boasts 13 entries this year, one of the exhibition's largest.
At the pull ring, spectators can look forward to more oxen than usual. Longley usually limits entries to 32 yoke, but so far 39 pair have entered and he's going to try to accommodate them all.
Horse pulls will see the largest purses ever which should make for stiff competition in light, medium, heavy, and extra heavy. Competitions are Wednesday night for light and medium, and Friday night for heavy and extra heavy. Longley expects the stands to be filled.
While the dairy show may have suffered in previous years, it's coming back with a vengeance and Longley says it looks good with a full barn already.
Ag Alley, an educational component of the exhibition, is up and going again this year. "It looks like it will be as big as usual with displays, demonstrations, and the popular kiddy farm," he said.
There is additional seating in the main ring this year with the help of ACOA, Longley said. A new section will hold 600 making for about 400 additional seats in that area. Last year the rodeo and ATC competition were so popular that seat was a problem, prompting the Ex to implement a replacement program that will continue over several years. Not only are there new seats, but the old seating has been raised so spectators in the first several rows will be able to see better.
Under that same ACOA project power lines across midway have been re-routed so the exhibition will be able to accommodate more rides, games, and concessions.
Commercial booth space in the main building and in the Youth Arena is just about full with some new exhibitors.
As for the light horse show, Longley said it looks like a long list of entries with jumper divisions Friday and Saturday.
The rodeo may well prove to be the most popular event as the daring tangle with animals Wednesday evening at the main ring. Last year's first-ever rodeo drew large crowds who watched events for both youngsters and adults.
Of course the exhibition wouldn't be the exhibition without one of the largest and most popular parades in the province. More than 100 entries are already committed and will start Monday, Aug. 13 from the Fitch Road at 6:30 p.m. and will enter the main ring at 7:15 p.m.
Posters and programs are already in circulation, but if you've missed those, all Annapolis Valley Exhibition events can be seen on the Ex's new website at www.annapolisvalleyexhibition.ca.