118 years of tradition at Armstrong’s Interior Provincial Exhibition

Click to play video 'Growers show off their produce at Armstrong’s Interior Provincial Exhibition' Growers show off their produce at Armstrong’s Interior Provincial Exhibition
Watch Above: It started in a much different time, when most people grew their own food. Now more than a century later, most of our food comes from a store. But as Megan Turcato reports, when it comes to the Interior Provincial Exhibition, which opened Wednesday in Armstrong, some things are just as important as they were 118 years ago. – Aug 30, 2017

The thrills, spills, sights and sounds of the Interior Provincial Exhibition are back for their 118th year.

The annual fair opened in Armstrong on Wednesday. Organizers hope that more than 150,000 people will have taken in the spectacle by the time the gates close on Sunday.

Along with the rides, parade and musical acts, the fair proudly displays the region’s agricultural traditions.

Part and parcel of that are competitions that see the judging of everything from cookies and quilts to pumpkins and squash. Everyone is hoping to come away with a first place ribbon for their efforts.

Ralph Livingston’s 309 pound pumpkin won heaviest pumpkin at the IPE this year. Livingston grew it in his backyard in Kelowna. “The thing took up half the garden,” he said. Megan Turcato / Global News

Heaviest pumpkin is one of those competitions.

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This year, Ralph Livingston took the prize by growing a 309-pound pumpkin in his Kelowna backyard.

“I set out to win this thing and I did it,” he said.

Livingston’s pumpkin was just one pound heavier than its closest competitor.

“I won it in 1978… back when 205 pounds would win and I thought I would like to give it a go again this year,” said Livingston.

“With all the heat we’ve had this summer, lots of compost, lots of water it turned out that I won.”

It’s been almost 40 years since he won for the first time but the changing times haven’t dampened the appeal of entering produce at the fair.

What local gardeners and farmers grow has changed over the years. Today “garlic is king,” said organizer Rea Smith. “In the last few years the prize winning garlic is often stolen before the fair is over because people would like to plant the best garlic.”. Megan Turcato / Global News

Organizers said hundreds of entries continue to vie for ribbons each year. That may be partly by design.

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Organizers hope the competition encourages both backyard gardening and local commercial agriculture.

Because at the end of the day, the IPE is both a celebration of local traditions and a way of helping to pass them on to new generations.