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'A tremendous feeling': Brandon's Royal Winter Fair wraps up week-long celebration

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A long-running, beloved Brandon event is celebrating a successful return to fully in-person festivities this spring break.

The Royal Manitoba Winter Fair concluded Saturday after six days of activities, entertainment, food, and more.

"It's been going absolutely fantastic," said Mark Humphries, general manager of the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba, "We've got the crowds back, trade show full, the equestrian shows going on, the weather's been on our side, so we've had a real good week all the way around."

This is the first fully in-person edition of the fair since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Humphries said last year's event was a challenge. "We had five weeks to put on a show, which was extremely difficult for staff and volunteers," he said. "Last year, we were still under COVID restrictions, so we had rooms taken up for the jab centres. This year we've got everything back and we're running at full steam."

Some of the events taking place at the Keystone centre included a four-horse team championship, farm relay, birds of prey competition, and the Woofjocks – a group of trained dogs performing tricks.

The Manitoba room featured a selection of food vendors, exhibitors, and live entertainment.

Humphries said crowds of people turned out for the fair. "Family day was absolutely bursting … great sponsors, great volunteers. Now that COVID's behind us, we're looking to build and build."

He added the fair is a great economic driver for the entire Westman region. "We've got the hotels all smiley again because we've been filling the hotel rooms, filling the local restaurants and local shops, so everybody bounces off the fair. It's a tremendous feeling for all of us," said Humphries.

The organization runs two major fairs per year. The Manitoba Summer Fair returns to Brandon June 7-11, 2023.

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