A spokesperson for the Hanover Ag Fair says this last weekend's event exceeded all expectations.

"The weekend was excellent, really it was," says Chair Wayne Lemay. "From our perspective, ran very well."

Lemay says though he has not yet seen final attendance numbers, he guesses between 5,000 and 6,000 visitors passed through the gate. He notes crowds appeared thinner on the grounds during the day Friday and Saturday. Lemay suggests that could be because the forecast on Saturday did not seem favourable, yet there was no rain on the grounds and the overcast sky kept the heat away. Lemay says smaller crowds is something being felt at a lot of festivals in the southeast this summer. He notes people are busy and do not always want to commit to something they have already attended for a number of years.

Crowds at the bull riding events and concert seemed average, according to Lemay, while the demolition derby on Sunday was one of the best attended ever.

Lemay says changes to this year's event appear to have paid off. One change is that their bull riding event was expanded to run for two nights. Lemay says logistically, running a bull riding event is not as much work for the fair committee. He notes there are changes needed to be made to the arena as far as setup and moving spectators through, but he says everything went very well and it seems it was well received within the industry.

"The crowds seemed to enjoy it, our Friday night crowd was definitely bigger than our Thursday night crowd," says Lemay. "Really, really talented riders and pretty spectacular bulls as well. Anybody that was here saw a great show and I'm sure they went away quite pleased."

Another change this year saw the fireworks, traditionally scheduled for Sunday, moved to Saturday. Lemay says this allowed for cleanup to start earlier and also made it more appealing for people who have to go to work Monday morning.

"Many people have responded very positively to fireworks being on Saturday night," says Lemay. "We haven't had any feedback from people wondering why there weren't fireworks (Sunday) night."

Lemay says there is a chance that changes introduced this year will be tried again in 2020. He notes each activity will be evaluated in the coming weeks to determine whether it needs tweaking or to be scrapped altogether.

According to Lemay, the Back Porch Jam on Saturday night was a fantastic show. The combination of Manitoba singer/ songwriters Quinton Blair, Don Amero, Leanne Pearson and Tyler Del Pino took the stage in what Lemay calls "a high energy show" with great Manitoba talent on display.

"They really sort of blew my mind," he says.

Overall, Lemay says it was a fantastic weekend, noting the volunteer spirit was spectacular. He notes one thing needing to be fixed for next year is their dog policy. Lemay says there were a few small incidents that happened as the result of dogs being off their leash.

Volunteers collected tins for the bin at Saturday's parade. (Photo credit: Grunthal Caring Hands Food Bank)

Meanwhile, Grunthal's Caring Hands Food Bank took advantage of the crowds over the weekend. Volunteers collected non-perishable food items and donations at Friday's pancake breakfast and then also gathered goods in Saturday's parade. Chair Rob Warkentin says they took in 810 pounds of food, up from 500 pounds last year, and $400 cash.

"I think this is the most that we've collected ever (at the parade)," says Warkentin. "We were pleasantly surprised. It was incredible."

Driving the tractor in the parade, Warkentin says it was neat to see families bring bags filled with non-perishables.

"That's an amazing sight to see and we're so grateful to the community," he says.

Warkentin says their supplies were getting low prior to this weekend, but this should now keep the shelves stocked until the September food drive.