Close to 30,000 people took in the 54th annual Rutland May Days celebration on the weekend, the biggest crowd ever to attend the celebration.
That included the largest parade ever, as well as the popular West Coast Amusements fair grounds and a stellar lineup of entertainment, drawing 4,000 more people through the gates to continue a renaissance for the community festival which was in dire straits just four years ago.
“It was amazing, the best turnout yet in attendance,” said organizer Chris Brown.
“Our entertainment lineup was phenomenal, everybody was walking around the grounds smiling. The only complaint I had was when we had to shut down Sunday night. Overall it was great.”
This year’s attendance record marks a stark turnaround from 2009, when just 4,000 people took in the event.
That was the last year when the fastball tournament and beer gardens were the focal activities of May Days. West Coast Amusements began as part of May Days in 2010 and every year since, as May Days has shown an increase in attendance.
“I attribute the growth to a number of factors,” said Brown.
“The rides attract kids and kids bring their parents.
“Also the acts on the entertainment stage were top notch acts that people will pay to see and are included in the gate admission ($2).
“There is also more awareness of the event now than in the past.”
May Days is the main fundraiser for the Rutland Parks Society, and while final figures are still being tallied, Brown says this year’s event raised between $30,000 and $40,000 for the society.
The proceeds are directed towards improvements to Centennial Park, which is operated under the auspices of the society.
Also this year, admission on Sunday was a non-perishable food item for the Kelowna Community Food Bank.
Brown says the food bank were also one of 21 community groups represented at a community information exhibit held also on Sunday.
As for the May Days parade winners, the winning entries were:
•Best kids entry: Rutland Parent Participation Pre-School
•Best musical entry: Old Time Fiddlers
•Best community entry: Kelowna Ogopogo
•Best non profit entry: Shriners
•Best commercial entry: Cooper’s Foods