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Queen City Ex attendance dips amid price complaints

Attendance at the Queen City Ex dropped below 200,000 , marking three years of decline, and complaints about prices. David Baxter has more.

The Queen City Ex (QCX) has come and gone for another year. The Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL) is calling it a success, despite a drop in attendance.

A three-year downward trend continued, but the crowd was still sizeable. 193,246 people came through the gates over the course of five days, down by about 10,000 compared to 2017.

“We always say it’s the five best days of summer. People come out and enjoy the rides, the food, the entertainment that we have offered here,” REAL marketing director Paula Kohl said.

There were some weather challenges during the QCX, but the price became a sticking point with some guests.

READ MORE: Regina senior celebrates 70th year going to Queen City Ex

A post on the QCX Facebook page said organizers will be taking in all feedback and keeping it in mind for planning next year’s event. A quick browse of the comment section showed many complaints around the price of food, rides, admission and quality of entertainment. Others used the thread to share their enthusiasm for the annual fair.

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“What we plan to do is collect all of that feedback and share it with our midway operators as well as the food vendors that do come along with the show, and take a look at our programming internally as well to make sure we are providing value to the community,” Kohl said.

Kohl added she is not able to say exactly what the budget for the QCX is, but REAL does spend hundreds of thousands on five days of entertainment. This includes mainstage acts like the Arkells.

While planning next year’s Ex, REAL will be looking at developing more entertainment partnerships to get the best bang for their buck.

REAL runs the Ex on a non-profit basis, but still has to pay for entertainers, vendors and North American Midway to provide the rides.

North American Midway vice president of fun Scooter Korek said running their travelling circuit across western Canada is a costly endeavor.

“We’re transporting 350 tractor trailer loads across western Canada, which is not cheap. We bring with us 450 travelling staff, and in various places, like here, we would hire another 120,” Korek said, after setting up at the Saskatoon Ex.

“This is not really a super cheap venture.”

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With that in mind, Korek said they do offer advance ride passes at a discount in an effort to make the exhibition experience more affordable.

READ MORE: Crews putting last minute touches on Saskatoon Exhibition set up

While the QCX is over, the Saskatoon Ex opened Tuesday. The two fairs have comparable prices, and attendees had varying views on the price.

“They’re reasonable. They don’t get overly costly,” Jarrod Fiddler said. “They stay average, depends on which day you come.”

“I’m a single parent, my mother actually paid for us to come here, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to afford to come,” Melissa Barg said.

“We like ’em. We came from Calgary for it. We didn’t go to the Stampede, but we came to Saskatoon to go to the ex because we like it more,” Dave Erickson said.

The Saskatoon Ex runs until Sunday.

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