Despite the colder temperatures Friday night, along with showers and a few unforeseen hiccups with fire alarms on Saturday, the sunny summer-like weather on Sunday helped salvage, and in fact bolster, numbers at the annual Ridge Meadows Home Show.
One of the community's largest annual events, held Friday through Sunday at Planet Ice and the Albion fairgrounds, noted attendance of more than 22,000 people. That's up slightly compared to last year's 20,000, said show organizer Cass Winder.
"We ended on a real high note," Winder told The TIMES. "It's so gratifying, the way that this community resonates to what we do_ they're loyal. They love it, and they come. Even in the pouring rain, they come offering us encouragement."
Even though false alarms cleared the buildings twice during the peak hours on Saturday and many visitors gave up and left, the warmer weather on Sunday thankfully helped regain those lost numbers, she explained.
While public attendance is key to a three-day show of this magnitude, Winder said it's also imperative to get the right mix of exhibitors, entertainment, and events.
In this year's "Everything" themed-show, she said most of the booths and spaces were sold out back in January, bringing together a mix of new and returning exhibitors.
In addition to participation of 375 exhibitors, the three-day event also featured a Family Fest Funzone, The TIMES BBQ School, West Coast Amusements carnival, and the Body, Mind & Spirit Psychic Fair.
While Winder promoted this year's show as offering "everything for your home, your family, your life," she was particularly optimistic about the growth of the newest feature - the Outdoor Lifestyle and Leisure Show, which was in its second year and proving "incredibly" popular with exhibitors and visitors.
"We're ecstatic," Winder said near the end of the 2012 show. "I can't think of any other word except 'grateful.' I'm so grateful to everyone. The 200-plus tireless volunteers, my committed team, exhibitors who keep coming back and raving about our show, the community for its support and attendance."
Winder was also grateful to the District of Maple Ridge and the joint parks and rec department for what she described as an "invigorated" partnership that saw the show organizers working much closer with municipal staff to plan for the event and overcome on-site hurdles in both the arena facilities as well as the fairgrounds leading up to and during the show.
Watching a large crowd gather for the Bobs & Lolo show on the main outdoor stage Sunday, Winder let out a big sigh.
"It's a labour of love, and seeing it all come together like this, it makes everything worthwhile. You forget the sore feet, the lack of sleep, the aching body, and all the little fires. It's all about this, people coming together and enjoying the show."